Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Sudbury bucks the trend as 15 new businesses launch in town amidst COVID-19
*Edit 02.10.2020 - a local business have reminded us that 15 new businesses have launched amidst COVID-19, not 14 as previously stated. Please read on to find out more, and thank you for supporting local!
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Sudbury’s independent businesses have reacted with incredible energy and creativity to stay connected to their existing customers and reach new audiences.
Some were on the brink of launching their new ventures just as lockdown forced them to close their doors. Most reacted quickly in moving their businesses online, setting up delivery and collection services and embracing social media to keep in touch with regular and new customers alike.
Ellie Stock Bishop, the owner of Nell & Green Botanics on East Street comments:
“Our new shop had only been open 2 days when the Government announced lockdown. We embraced the opportunity to invest in our online presence, build our e-commerce platform, free local delivery service and build our social media – we wanted to get our name out there.”
“The online response was incredible, as was the demand in our delivery service. Being included in Sudbury’s Virtual High Street also drove custom our way so we were grateful to be promoted on this free platform.”
“Shopping habits have changed, and yes many choose to shop online but from our recent experience there is still a huge demand in bricks and mortar stores. Many of our customers found about us on Instagram or the Virtual High Street but now visit and buy from our store regularly. As well as buying our products, our customers want advice, interaction and to see our stock in the flesh.”
The interplay of an active online presence and the personal touch of having a high street store seems to be the way forward for many businesses. For many of our longer standing high street retailers, recent investment in an increased online presence illustrates that COVID-19 has been a catalyst for many businesses to embrace the digital side of their business.
For example, Angelo Smith (North Street), Mandy’s (Station Road) and Asters (East Street) have all developed digital shopfronts just as attractive and functional as their physical stores. This boosted online presence opens up the potential for attracting new customers, increased sales and more physical footfall.
For those businesses concerned about leaving their more elderly customers behind, don’t be, over 65s accounted for 34% of the online traffic to Sudbury’s Virtual High Street between May and July (Google Analytics).
Back on Sudbury’s physical high street, anyone who regularly takes a stroll along North Street could not have failed to notice another characterful shopfront emerging; Ray’s Retro, a new classic toys and collectables shop due to launch on Saturday 3rd October with some very exciting plans in place (not to missed).
Tony Byfield, owner of Ray’s Retro comments:
“We took a look at a few units but the minute I saw this shop on North Street I was sold, so full of character, like Sudbury itself. The shop is born from my late dad Ray's life-long love of collecting vintage and classic toys, a real passion project.”
“We already sell online and we could easily keep doing so, but it is so important to us, and it was our dad’s dream to have a shop, a space where people can reminisce and chat as well as buy. It’s that personal touch.”
Some teasers from Ray's Retro Toys & Collectables, launching on North Street, Sudbury on Sat 3rd October. Don't miss their launch event!
There was a time when consumers criticised the dominance of chain stores on our high streets, killing off the independent businesses, grocers and boutiques that make our towns unique. But are we now seeing another shift? Independent retailers have more autonomy, can make changes to their businesses that build resilience and can react quickly to a variety of situations – as evidenced by the local retail reaction to COVID-19. More importantly they have that much craved personal touch, knowledge and passion about the products and services they provide.
It has been extremely difficult to watch as retail behemoths all over the UK announce store closures and redundancies. Sudbury has not been immune to this, yes we have lost our branch of Pizza Express, but we still lucky to have the likes of A Slice of New York, Dough & Co. and Pizza Town to keep pizza lovers happy in Sudbury.
In Sudbury we have seen far more businesses open than close over the past few months. Are new businesses owners seeing an opportunity? Retail experts have recently released consumer data collected over the course of the pandemic that reveals a renewed commitment to shopping locally and supporting independent businesses, but will it stick?
Vacancy rates are often used as a measure of town centre vitality. In July 2020 the national vacancy rate was measured at 12.4% for high streets, for perspective, anything around or below 10% is considered healthy. In July 2020 Sudbury had a high street vacancy rate of 7.3%, compared to 8.4% in July 2019. This would indicate, by this measure, that Sudbury’s high street is in healthier shape than it was this time last year.
The larger empty units left in the wake of some closures last year may paint a different picture. We know independent businesses take on smaller units, a sensible decision largely made for them by an outdated business rate system and often high rents, both are long overdue review and reform.
Despite all this, since June Sudbury has welcomed 13 new, mostly independent businesses to our high street. 15 if you include Ray’s Retro due to launch this Saturday (3rd October) and Bishop’s Coffee, due to launch in mid-October on East Street. All bringing something unique to our high street. They are launching at one of the most challenging times in retail history so please join us in welcoming, and supporting, the new additions to Sudbury’s high street:
76 North St, CO10 1RF
Nature's Temple are a complimentary , wellness centre within Health Foods For You & Therapies For You. They have a fantastic experienced team of practitioners offering reflexology, hot stone massage, reiki, indian head, readings, colon hydrotherapy, nutrition therapy, scenar, deep tissue massage. Click here to book!
Nature's Temple was built and designed by Jane Pearson who is also the owner of the well loved 'Health Foods For You' at the same location. Jane and her team were in the midst of launching their new venture when lockdown came, it was a frustrating wait for July when they could finally open their doors. As much preloved, and upcycled material was used in the build, aiming to keep within the ethos of the business which provides ethical treatments for men and woman using cruelty free, organic, vegan products which are their own brand, infused with essential oils.
10 Station Road, CO10 2SS
If you have not yet visited this new bar & restaurant on Station Road, put a date in the diary. Over lockdown their takeaway brunches were flying off the hotplate and their customers keep going back for more. Their brunches and burgers are fast becoming their signatures.
17 Gaol Lane, CO10 1JL
Part of the award winning Bridal Reloved chain of bridal boutiques specialising in brand new ex-sample and pre-loved wedding gowns. We are thrilled to welcome this beautiful store to Sudbury, and with our independent jewellers, florists, and caterers in town you can plan for your whole wedding in Sudbury!
19 Gaol Lane, CO10 1JL
An eclectic shop showcasing a wide range of handcrafts by local artisans alongside delectable homewares and gifts from designer ranges to pocket money gifts. Duck in Boots formerly had a shop on King Street in Sudbury and continue to run a successful online shop alongside their new shop on Gaol Lane. Also have two commercial units on the same site available to hire by the day, week or month:
19 Gaol Lane, CO10 1JL
Flexible, short term commercial units, particularly great for creatives looking for opportunities to promote and sell their work.
75 North Street, CO10 1RF
Opening soon on North Street, Ray’s Retro (named in honour of owner Tony’s late father) is a vintage toys & collectables shop full of character (and characters) born from Ray's life-long love of collecting vintage and classic toys. They sell toys from all genres including TV and film collectables. Don’t miss the launch event on Saturday 3rd October and your chance to receive a free pack of collector cards for those dressed up!
101 East Street, CO10 1TL
Having been open just 2 days before COVID-19 restrictions forced their doors to close, Nell & Green invested in their online shop and social media presence, promoting their products and ethos and by the time June came they had a customer base who were itching to visit their beautiful shop in the flesh. A fantastic addition to Sudbury’s High Street.
101 East Street, CO10 1TL
New to East Street, staff at The Lash Box Studio have over 6 years experience in the industry. Offering a range of treatments including Russian Volume, Classic, Hybrid Lashes, Brow and Nail treatments. Not only that, their new studio looks incredible.
Townrow Home Stores
40 King Street, CO10 2EH
Townrow has very quickly made a big impression on Sudbury. The family run department store has taken over the former Winch & Blatch Homewares store on King Street. They are slowly putting their own stamp on the store but pop in for all things kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and beyond. They also have a fantastic range of toys and gifts (hello Christmas shopping…)
18 North Street, CO10 1RB
Run by somewhat of a local legend Matt Francis opened his new venture ‘Pile it High’ in June, an indpendent old school discount store, Matt won’t be beaten on price or friendliness. His regular Facebook videos announcing new stock are not to be missed.
101 East St, CO10 1TL
Also joining the East Street retail (former post office) family is the new town centre Convenience Store, a very handy joint for all your chocolate cravings!
43 Friars Street, CO10 2AG
Having refurbished their bed and breakfast rooms and bar area the Angel re-opened under new management in September. The doors of The Angel are now well and truly open with a new lunch and evening menus, also a cosy pub for a coffee or a pint.
2 Friars Street, CO10 2AA
Now open in the former iconic Anchor Pub on Friars Street we are please to welcome Atkins Dellow to Sudbury.
10 East Street, CO10 2TP
Owner Gemma has 23 years experience in the hairdressing industry and in July opened her very own salon on East Street – a lifelong dream. East Street also sell some great all natural and vegan haircare products that are well worth a look.
Bishop’s Coffee (Opening soon)
101 East St, CO10 1TL
Owner Lee Bishop is a trained chef with a passion for speciality coffee served how it should be! When they open their doors in October, the independent coffee shop will complete the set of 5 small new business units that occupy the former post office building on East Street, and what a lovely bunch they are.
Follow Bishop's Coffee on Instagram for some teasers before they launch...
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