Shopping challenge inspires Bedfordians to try offline first

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Gemma Lane has set herself a challenge, a challenge to try Bedford’s shops before she logs on to the internet. She says it’s to help Bedford’s economy and also find shops in town she didn’t know existed.

She told us: “I’ve worked in retail for most of my life and while I, like many others, do shop online, I wanted to see if Bedford could compete with 21st century Shop . So far I’ve not been disappointed.”

Gemma’s challenge is to head into town and see if shops locally can provide what she needs first. It doesn’t mean she’s giving up the internet completely, she’s just making sure she isn’t missing the opportunity to put her money back into Bedford. “I have been pleasantly suprised with what I’ve found is available in Bedford, and how helpfull the shop owners and staff are.” adds Gemma. But what if they don’t have what you need? Gemma says they usually know someone who does: “I recently went into Goldings of Bedford and they sadly did not have what I wanted but they recommended Homebase and I got what I needed.”

Some might say shopping at a store like Homebase isn’t really shopping local, but when you consider that large chain employs local people, and has already announced the closure of its Rope Walk store, the impact of shopping on our doorstep is clear.

And it’s not just a financial benefit that Gemma has found. “Walking around town has been good for my health and I am meeting new people. I run a business that needs a lot of card and paper and Coleman’s always have what I need. The shop staff there have got to know me and can tell me what I need before I sometimes know myself.”

And shopping in the real world has opened up new places for Gemma too. When we met to chat before filming we met at Vanilla Tree. “I’ve never been here” said Gemma “and I wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t come into town.”

To find out more about the shops in our town centre visit Love Bedford or Explore Bedford.

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