Small traders can taste the retail environment in vacant town centre shop over the festive period
Small traders are being given the chance to taste the retail environment of Aldershot town centre by moving into an empty shop during the busy Christmas period.
An agreement has been struck by Rushmoor Borough Council with the landlord who owns the former Burton and Dorothy Perkins unit, at 60 Union Street, to allow small retailers to trade there for an eight-week period starting next month for £10 per day.
The search is now on for up to 24 tenants to occupy the space, which will be kitted out in ‘Aldershop’ branding from Saturday November 9 to Sunday January 5.
The empty premises, in a prime position on the corner with Wellington Street, became vacant on August 24 after holding company Arcadia Group made the decision to pull out of the town.
The council’s town centre management team has been in contact with the landlord ever since the announcement was made, however, and the landlord agreed this week to offer it rent-free to the council.
David Phillips, town centre manager, said: “He obviously wants the unit filled on a long-term basis but for the time being it is filling a prime empty unit and is something vibrant for the Christmas period.
“It is quite a tight turnaround period but it gives traders a chance to get experience of a retail environment where they didn’t have it before. They can try out retail for real and there’s always the hope that one of them will decide it works for them and rent the unit.”
The Aldershop scheme has been created by the borough council and will be run by the town centre management team.
Six different traders can operate in the unit at one time, and they will be given a two-week period before the next tenant moves in.
Any traders can apply, but those from the Aldershot area will be favoured, as will those who do not have other units in the town.
Workshops offering advice on how to make the most of the experience will be run for the traders by not-for-profit service Enterprise First.
Each will then be given an area of the shop containing a bookcase, table and chair, but it is up to them to decorate the space.
They will set up from 8am to 10am on the first Saturday morning of their trading window and pack up by 7pm on the final Friday.
The shop will be open from 10am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays.
Users will pay £10 a day to the council to cover the costs of the scheme.
“It’s something that’s been trialled in other towns with varying levels of success,” added Mr Phillips.
“It’s a big two months coming up for all retailers.”
Those who wish to apply to trade in the unit should complete an online application form, available at www.aldershotretail.co.uk/aldershop, by October 21.
The scheme’s successful applicants will be informed shortly afterwards.