I wanted to add my thoughts to Shona Perkins’ comments in the KWN. I have recently left the town but still return regularly and think it’s very sad to see the town declining.
I had some pieces of artwork in Gallery 25 above Beading Crafty, also run by Shona, and I tried very hard to get things moving for other people like myself who are squirrelling away in the background but without an outlet to show off their businesses as nobody can afford to pay the rents.
It inspired me to set up the Kenilworth Fiestas which were very popular and very successful. It meant local businesses could also network and gave shops such as Lily Rose Bridal the opportunity to meet local cake makers, photographers etc, which she could recommend and join forces with to keep things local. This is very important to the local traders and residents.
All these charity shops, opticians etc etc are killing the town. It’s great to have these traders there but the numbers should be limited. It’s shocking that local independent traders are being pushed out of the town by a flood of one or two types of businesses. It’s not good for the town in any respect. People who live there will be forced elsewhere for their purchases and visitors will stop coming.
After the Fiestas there was a lot of talk of pop-up shops to help people like us but they never happened. I even did ‘love your market day’ with the hope that maybe I could at least do a stall once a week but £35 is completely out of reach for people like us and not worth taking the loss for.
There has to come a point when a town in decline decides that they have to start helping themselves with sensible decisions. Realistic rents has to be top priority and not a deluge of one type of business. The town belongs to the people and their voice should count. It’s great to have lots of wonderful places to eat and drink but that’s only good if there are a good variety of shops to complement it. How many Indian restaurants (as fab as they are!) can one town take? How does it make good business sense to allow so many and in such close proximity too? How is it good for the town that a well liked and highly regarded trader such as Town and Country are forced out of their premises to make way for a charity shop?
Once the station comes there is an amazing opportunity for this town to thrive but only if the right balance of shops are there. It’s a sad loss to Kenilworth that such a wonderful trader as Shona has decided she has no choice but to close.
It’s time Kenilworth went back to supporting the traders. Sadly Shona isn’t the first and I suspect she won’t be the last either. Some common sense needs to start shining through. Please start to listen!
Sarah Abellan, via email