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Gloucestershire Business News

Cotswold town loses another high street shop

A community-minded shop in Wotton-under-Edge's Long Street has signalled that it will shut its doors next month after it struggled to survive in the wake of the Pandemic.

The news that The Collective, a retail unit that offered shared space for many small crafts traders and local artists, will hold a closing-down sale from October 16th, was met with dismay by shoppers in the town.

In a social media post on the decision, a spokeswoman said: "It brings us all such sadness to announce the final closing of our doors on Saturday October 21st. We would like to thank all our customers and crafters past and present that made this dream come true for the past four years."

In reaction, regular shopper Jo Beale commented: "I'm gutted. Have bought so many things in here that have been sent all over the world to family and friends. So sad for you," while Kirsten Louise said the shop was "My little girls' favourite treasure trove." Debbie Gilmore added that the business "had given excellent support to local creative people."

The loss of the shop in the wake of several recent closures  also casts a shadow on momentum for a popular local idea that Wotton-under-Edge could emphasise its appeal as a crafts hub, but discussion about

further direction has been stifled by the recent folding of Wotton Chamber of Trade.

Former president, Martin Tucker, said: "After so many businesses were closed during lockdown it was too much. People stopped paying their subscriptions because running a shop in the climate was very hard in the circumstances."

However, Moe Morgan, who runs the Fish Out of Water art gallery and bespoke gifts and craftwork said business was good.

She said: "I have businesses closed down currently on both sides of our premises, but the town still has a credible retail offer, with a good emphasis on all different sorts of crafts and gifts. We deal with suppliers who are professional, and their paintings sell to people who can afford to buy. Customers still show big demand for local art.

"Where the town suffers, though, it that its hands seem tied over evening opportunities: Wotton is ripe as an evening venue, but bids for more food options simply get blocked. It's busy and the demand could be there, with space to park, which would feed other businesses, too."

As well as The Collective several gift and craft-related businesses continue to trade in the town. A spokesman for Tanzee Designs, which trades as a specialist bead business, said that strong online demand for its products had been a vital part of the business's ongoing good fortune, while workshops from the premises were also hugely popular.

Jessica May, a psychic medium who shared space at The Collective for consultations, said: "Rural shops like the Collective worked so hard particularly after the knockback from the Pandemic, but our hands are tied when it comes to inflation and the amount of money shoppers now have, given the economy. We also had no real help on energy costs and it all adds up to an impossible situation. Small shops need government help, but we have had nothing."

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