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Independent traders operating out of new emporium in Canterbury

By Marijke Hall

A unique new emporium with more than 100 different independent traders has been opened in the former Crabtree and Evelyn shop in Burgate.

The project was the brainchild of artist Emma Davis, who wants to make it easier for small businesses to thrive in today's tough retail climate.

So, armed with just a power drill, a few tins of paint and bucket-loads of faith, the mum-of-one transformed the empty shop and created Walrus & Oyster Emporium.

The emporium was started by Emma Davis, left, pictured with artists Lydia Witts, Amber Hudson-Peacock from The Wild Beehive, author Carol Creasey, artist David Weeks and Jane Padgham, who creates fused glasswork
The emporium was started by Emma Davis, left, pictured with artists Lydia Witts, Amber Hudson-Peacock from The Wild Beehive, author Carol Creasey, artist David Weeks and Jane Padgham, who creates fused glasswork

She says the venture will help cut overheads for independents, while creating a unique new high street store selling quirky pieces, from art to books and even baby clothing.

“This is really about giving a platform for as many artisan businesses and independents as possible,” she said.

“It is helping support them by keeping costs down.

"A pitch is from £10 a week depending on the size of space someone has in here and so it’s much cheaper than pop-ups and events.

“Pop-ups are great but expensive. You invest in the displays and set-up and then it closes and your displays may not then fit into the next pop-up shop.

“With eventing, when you set up a pitch somewhere, you might pay high fees - and you may do well, but you may not.

"If you’re away from your workshop or studio, you’re not able to create any of your products while you’re at the event.

The emporium is in the former Crabtree and Evelyn store
The emporium is in the former Crabtree and Evelyn store

“This emporium supports their businesses, giving them an opportunity to trade and build.”

Business owners take it in turns to man the shop on a voluntary basis, allowing more precious time for others to create their wares or go to events to try to double their revenue.

“Debenhams is going, Nasons has gone - we’ve got to think of new ways of doing things,” Ms Davis added.

“This allows each one to have their own shop, while too small or too new to do this alone.”

The artisan traders all have their own section of the store.

Authors, textile artists, a book-binder and fashion and jewellery designers are among those trading.

The emporium has already earned itself a five-star rating on TripAdvisor.

For more details visit www.facebook.com/Walrusandoyster/

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