Bridgnorth traders are being urged to attend a first-of-its-kind meeting which aims to raise the profile of the town and boost visitor numbers.
The event, to be held at The Shakespeare Inn on August 30, has an agenda covering a range of initiatives and will address some of the challenges facing British High Streets.
Proprietors and mangers of shops, cafes and pubs are being invited by Love Bridgnorth, the marketing organisation which is successfully promoting the town as a ‘brand’.
Jenny Bone, owner of the My Little Wedding Shop in Castle Terrace, was one of the first to confirm she would attend.
She said: “No one can have failed to see that all High Streets are facing challenges – with Bridgnorth being no exception.
“There are several ways to counter this – but it starts with joining together as a business community to share ideas to make sure that Bridgnorth is making the most of its assets and doing all it can to welcome tourists and encouraging residents to shop and spend locally.”
The meeting will include an overview of Bridgnorth from the recent ‘Future of the High Street’ symposium, a presentation of a new town guide and possible map, an initiative around poppy displays for Remembrance Day, Christmas shopping evenings, discussion of digital innovations, including a Bridgnorth app and general brainstorming of ideas.
Sally Themans of Love Bridgnorth stressed: “We want this to be a positive meeting about Bridgnorth’s High Street and town centre businesses. Representatives from the Town Council and the Bridgnorth Chamber of Commerce have been briefed and are warmly invited.
“We have already started to work together – there is a WhatsApp group with over 80 retailers contributing. This was set up in 2017 to communicate about Christmas shopping nights and has now grown to be a useful tool for sharing information and ideas.
“Bridgnorth gets a lot right: initiatives such as the Great British High Street win, the amazing statue trail of locomotives, the park and ride and our stunning floral displays, but there is more we can do – together we are stronger.”
Love Bridgnorth social media sites reach an audience of around 80,000 per week. Researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University identified a marked improvement in online traffic involving the term ‘Bridgnorth’ and have used the town in a recent project to highlight the impact of social media on positive outcomes for places, including ‘community pride’.
Recent findings from the Local Data Company also show that Bridgnorth is bucking the national trend, with vacancy rates below average and the town holding up well as a destination, with a high ‘health index’ which takes into account 12 key variables such as turnover of premises, income per head, retail mix, vacancy rates and times and amenities etc.
Gail Merritt of Severn Wishes giftshop added: “It’s a great town and has so much to offer – many people envy what we have here – we want to keep it that way – preserving its charm and vibrancy.”
The meeting will be held on Thursday August 30 at 5.45pm, with refreshments by Sainsbury’s.