A stalwart of Bedford High Street, which has been closed as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) renovations, will reopen this month.
All Ears, which has been trading on Bedford High Street since 1989, will reopen on Monday, 25 September after closing in February for a major refit.
As part of the changes that have been made, the shop front has been returned to its 1920s glory, with hand-carved stone pillars and the removal of the front step.
It is the final shop to be renovated as part of the government-funded project, alongside the Salvation Army, Blue Monk, Sundaes Gelato, the Bedford Medical Centre and units on Silver Square.
“The shopfront was set back slightly with a big step,” said Willaim Mitchell, the son of owners Sylvia and Ian.
“The shop front has been brought forward and the step has gone which means it’s more accessible, which is something we’d wanted to do for a long time.”
A welcome return to a High Street favourite
All Ears has been trading since 1989, set up by Ian and Sylvia Mitchell.
“Ian’s an old hippie and my mum’s a former actress,” said William.
“They originally set up a shop in 1972 in Hitchin which was the original ‘hippy shop’ that I basically grew up in – I remember them selling looms. That was there for about 20 years and then they set up All Ears in Bedford.”
The shop was originally set up to be an earring shop – hence the name – but it very quickly started morphing into Stripe, the Hitchin shop.
“Soon it was selling incense, ethnic clothes etc.. and after about a year the metamorphosis was complete and they sold Hitchin and concentrated on the Bedford shop,” said Willam.
The enforced closure – much longer than the owners were anticipating – has meant that they have been able to implement changes they wouldn’t have been able to make while the shop was open.
“We’ve used this time as an opportunity to have a proper rethink about the shop layout,” William told the Bedford Independent.
“Now there will be more shop floor space, the counter will be in a different place and it will be more spacious.
“We’ll be able to expand the clothing line, with more variety and some more alternative, festival-style clothes. We’re also increasing the range of body jewellery and bringing back lines that we had dropped in the past due to lack of space including essential oils.”
To compound the good news, manager Tracey will be back behind the counter when All Ears opens on Monday (25 September).
Speaking exclusively to the Bedford Independent, Tracey said: “After what has been a much longer wait than we could ever have anticipated we are so excited to be opening on 25 September.
“I’m so thankful to everyone for their patience and support during this time, it truly means the world to us, we couldn’t have done this without your support.
“It’s been really difficult for us all, but we are now getting ready to reopen the doors of our beautiful little shop.
“Hopefully, we will make All Ears brighter than it was before and now, without the barrier of the high step to access the shop, we will be able to be enjoyed by everyone.
“I’m so very much looking forward to welcoming you all back again very soon – we have really missed you all. I can’t wait to see all our regular customers and of course, meet the new ones.”
Supporting Tracey will be some new members of staff who will be heading up the shop’s social media presence and William hopes to begin selling online too.
“We’re really positive about this next phase of All Ears,” he said. “If things do well, there’s potential to open a sister store in a nearby town. We’re here to combat the boring ‘homogenised high streets’ by providing a more alternative option.”
Helen Patterson of the Town Centre Champions told the Bedford Independent: “I’m delighted to hear All Ears is reopening.
From what I hear from local shoppers it’s been truly missed from the High Street whilst the upgrade works have been carried out.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the new frontage and layout and inviting the owner to take part in our Magic Tenner event in October.”
Opening day giveaway
To celebrate the relaunch, All Ears is offering a free goody bag to the first 20 customers who spend over £10 on the opening day.