Plan to promote Burnham as 'retro shopping destination' splits
plans to promote Burnham as a 'retro-on-sea' shopping destination
to encourage vintage shopping enthusiasts and visitors have been
unveiled this week, with mixed reactions.
Centre Manager Bev Milner Simonds, right, told town councillors
that the plan would help to promote Burnham in a unique and special
way with charity shops and other traders encouraged to sell more
vintage items and, with the creation of a retro-shopping map of
Burnham, attract more visitors.
councillors this week gave the proposals a guarded welcome and
said more research is needed before it is adopted as a marketing
Louise Parkin said the plans are "totally the wrong way to
go for Burnham." She added: "This idea is wrong in so
many ways - we are not Bath, Clifton or Notting Hill and I do
not believe that putting a few 'vintage' items in a cabinet or
wardrobe in each of Burnham's charity shops will help drive masses
of vintage shoppers into our town."
you spin it, it will not be a true vintage destination. We should
be building on what we already have and what we already do well
and not trying to con the public."
my biggest concern with this is that it's helping the businesses
in the town centre that put the least in and certainly give the
least out - the charity shops, who pay a maximum of 20% of business
rates, employ 90% volunteers, sell donated goods, and do not pay
VAT. Their contribution to the local economy is zero."
still, they are opposing shops that do pay VAT, employ people,
and do use local tradesmen, not outside contractors, for work.
These are the people we should be helping, unless of course you
actually want more charity shops in the town. I would add that
obviously the charity shops cater for a need and that their causes
are undoubtedly worthwhile and that I don't have a problem with
charity in general."
Centre Manager Bev Milner Simonds said: "Of the 207 businesses
in Burnham town centre, 11% sell shabby chic, second hand, vintage
themed and retro products. I am looking at building a brand for
Burnham and am exploring various ideas with businesses to promote
the town centre and attract extra footfall."
zeitgeist at the moment is for vintage, retro and remade fashion,
homewares and lifestyles - and there's a constant theme on recycling,
upcycling, craft and homemade products on mainstream TV, magazines
is just one idea for building a brand for Burnham. I am trying
to work with what we have - I can't change who rents the shops
but I can help to attract more footfall to the town centre, which
I hope all businesses would benefit from."
businesses I have spoken with so far are keen to look at the possibility
of designing a vintage trail map, which would be distributed within
the town at each target shop and regionally to draw people into
taps into vintage tourism, brocante tours and those day trippers
looking for an unusual find. 11% is a small, but significant opportunity
to work together and bring more people into the town for something
Paul Young said he feels the range of shops in Burnham is not
there. "We have three supermarkets in Burnham which have
practically destroyed the High Street - the range of shops is
just not there to support an idea like this."
Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton said: "It's quite a big change
that's being suggested, but many do like the vintage and retro
style. I do wonder, though, how long it will remain? We need the
options to be investigated further."
Phil Harvey told the meeting: "The team at BIARS, the tourist
information centre, often tell us that they meet visitors who
have come specifically to Burnham to visit the town's charity
shops. It's a difficult balance in a seaside town - I fully understand
that some say the charity shops do not put anything into the local
economy, but if they draw some people here then they spend more
here in Burnham."
Ken Smout told the meeting he supports the plans, explaining:
"We have got to give our Town Centre Manager a chance to
try something new. We must also ask whether we want charity shops
or empty shops because people are deluded if they think we are
going to attract Marks and Spencer and other big names to Burnham.
There's a real danger that people are being unrealistic in expectations."
Town Council agreed that the proposals will be further investigated
and discussed at a meeting later in the year.