Fiver Fest, the national celebration of independent businesses, returns to Bedford for the fourth time this October, with over 80 participants and counting.
From 10 – 24 October, dozens of Bedford businesses will be offering special £5 deals, giving you the perfect opportunity to check out some new shops and show support to your old favourites.
Click on the map below to see who is taking part:
Whether it was selling pre-mixed cocktails for collection each weekend, fashion boutiques and fishmongers offering free delivery or going the extra mile with incredible customer service, many of Bedford’s indies adapted to survive.
Totally Locally‘s Fiver Fest is a national event and thanks to the infectious enthusiasm of local organiser, Helen Patterson of Town Centre Champions, Bedford has regularly recorded among the highest number of participants in the UK.
“Bedford’s indies have transformed themselves since COVID and have come up with some brilliant new ways of remaining viable,” said Helen.
“They have adapted brilliantly as a result of being agile and responsive, unlike some clunky national retailers which find it so much harder to change the way they do things.
“Some businesses set up delivery services so they could continue to get goods to their customers.
“Decant Cheese and Wine Deli launched a new delivery service during lockdown that was so incredibly popular that their delivery service transformed into a new business in its own right – enter the Bedford Cheese Company.They are now selling their cheeses all over the UK.
“Bears & Tales were quick to react and launched a cocktail click and collect service which has been an enormous success. COVID has not stopped new businesses from opening in our town centre which shows how much confidence there is in Bedford’s shopping district.
“The Arc, Bedford Escape Rooms, Bridges, The Bedford Cheese Company, Energie Fitness, Carumbar, Il Basilico are among the list of new business who have launched post-covid.
“There have also been businesses which have changed hands post-covid including Choice Rolls, Bedford Coffee House, The Kiosk Russell Park and The Pavilion.
“Choice Rolls is managed by a 17-year-old. If teenage entrepreneurs have faith in the robustness of Bedford’s town centre indies, then so should we.”
Tim Edwards, who runs Beerfly, said, “Fiver Fest is a fantastic initiative that has brought new customers through our doors and offered them the chance to try out new and interesting beers.
“Fiver Fest has been hugely successful for Beerfly in the past, so much so that we’ve taken on some of the offers permanently and I’m sure this year will be just as successful.
“We’ve loved the opportunity to keep connecting with our customers during lockdown and helping them as much as we can and I’m sure that Fiver Fest will give us the opportunity to boost that relationship further.”
Fiver Fest is the brainchild of Chris Sands, who runs Totally Locally – an organisation dedicated to helping towns celebrate the power of local.
For the first time, Fiver Fest has the support of a major brand, with backing from Visa.
Dominic White, Head of Merchants and Acquirers at Visa, said, “We know that 2020 has been exceptionally challenging for small businesses so we’re doubling down on our commitment of support.
“Visa is proud to work with Totally Locally in its mission to bring communities together, and we encourage all small businesses to sign up to Fiver Fest ahead of 10 October.
“The next three months will be such an important period for small businesses, so we are urging the nation to back the spirit of Fiver Fest and shop local, either online or offline, to help communities recover.”
“When people band together and collaborate, great things can happen,” Chris Sands told the Bedford Independent.
“If one shop’s shouting about how great they are it has less impact than if 20, 30, 50 are saying the same thing and it becomes a much more attractive proposition.”
Even before the pandemic, town centres were evolving, and coronavirus has hastened that change.
“Town centres are never going to go back to what they used to be,” said Chris. “The businesses that will survive will be the ones who are resisting going back to the ‘old ways’.
“The shift in the next two years is going to be massive. We know there is a want to support local businesses, but it’s about making it easier to shop in independents.
“Click and collect, free local deliveries and showcasing your products on social media all help to attract customers.
“More and more people are shopping locally and Fiver Fest is a great way to remind customers that the independent businesses are still there and are vital to the future of towns.”