Letters: If you think Bedford town centre is ’empty’, join me for a tour…

The Arc
Gemma outside her shop, The Arc

Dear Editor

It seems that we have a serious issue, there are some people in Bedford who are having trouble counting.

I keep reading comments on posts such as your ‘Partial closure of High Street until November 2021 as improvement works begin’ in which people say over again that ‘there is no reason to go into town, there are no shops’.

I will forgive the mathematically challenged amongst us if they promise to come into town and rather than stand in front of an empty M&S while saying everything is awful they instead spend their day exploring ‘Town’, as it turns out Town is not just Primark and where Beales used to be.

Those who still think Town is empty should perhaps join me for the day as we:

*warning I’m about to write a list and it’s going to be long because…you guessed it there are ALOT of shops in town.

Start with a bacon bagel and smoothie at Vanilla Tree on St Cuthberts Street.

Feeling fuelled, pop to the Old Arcade for some super stylish clothes shopping at Anorak and Boutique Planet.

If you’re into vintage have a look in 4Mation, amazing upcycled furniture all run by a local charity.

Now we’re ready for some food shopping and boy is there some food shopping to be had, Foods of Italy on Bower Street, Montegos Food Market on Mill Street or Bestpol Delicatessen on Howard Street and if you’re wanting to keep an eye on your carbon footprint then go to The Store, a packaging free food shop, yes all here in ‘Town’.

Design by mrmogs.co.uk

Now we’ve sorted the food shopping it must be time for a spot of lunch.

We’ll head to CaRumBar and have the most amazing jerk chicken there is.

While we’re there (in Town, again, all this in the Town) why not pop to Fifth Avenue to get our nails done.

We probably need some caffeine to fuel our evening antics so we’ll go to The Gallery for some Wooden Hill coffee (yup you guessed it, locally ground coffee).

It’s starting to creep into evening so we’ll mosey on down to Beerfly or Bears & Tails for a cocktail to start our evening before finishing it with the best burger you’ll ever eat at Herd.

Pretty good day out and I didn’t even mention art at Eagle Gallery, sandwiches at Roosters, ice cream at Gallones, all the craft beer tour can drink at The Welly, theatre at The Quarry Theatre, paper floristry at Arlo Arts, gifts at Charisma, stunning handcrafted jewellery at épanoui, kitchen bits and the coolest take away coffee cups at Fays AND the list goes on and on and on.

And what do all these shops have in common?

We are all independents, owned and run by Bedfordians and we are all working our (shapely) behinds off to keep going in this pandemic, to work with the community, to help where we can, to offer services we think you’d like, to keep our local staff employed.

So when we read that people think there are NO shops in the town, it upsets us, we wish you knew about us. Maybe now you do.

Gemma Crawley-Roberts
Owner of The Arc

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