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Gravesend traders launch High Street Collective

By Jenna Dobbs

Traders have named the High Street “one to watch”, as they support the town’s independent businesses.

The High Street Collective aims to promote the area’s rich history, while ensuring it has a successful future.

Formed of around a dozen businesses, the group has gained more than 300 Facebook followers since its launch in November, and held two official meetings.

Gravesend High Street
Gravesend High Street

Its first event - The 12 Shops of Christmas - allowed businesses to explain what they do via social media, while encouraging people to purchase gifts from their local high street.

Its next project, a selfie board for Valentine’s Day, will see visitors to take a snap with a local shop, and upload it on social media.

Members include Graham Broadbent, owner of both Marie’s Tea Room and Marie’s Emporium, and Sarah Cheshire, who runs Forget-Me-Not Vintage & Crafts, also in the High Street.

As Gravesend Borough Market’s events coordinator, Sarah has also been involved in the EU-funded GO TRADE project, aimed at developing markets in the south of England and northern France.

Marie's Emporium and Tea Room
Marie's Emporium and Tea Room
Forget-Me-Not Vintage & Crafts
Forget-Me-Not Vintage & Crafts

She said: “Gravesend’s old High Street has been neglected, but its independent shops make us different.

“They provide an old-fashioned level of interaction, and people have missed that.

“It would be nice for other places to see that it can work, real traders working together.

“With the river and the town’s history, we’ve got a lot to offer.”

Other shops involved include Made in Kent, which sells artisan goods to raise money for mental health charity, Mind, and riverside pub The Three Daws.

Made In Kent
Made In Kent
The Three Daws
The Three Daws

Gravesend Games, Models and Railways is also part of the movement, alongside Mystical Memories, a gift shop also based in the High Street.

Lisa Bishop, manager at the Three Daws, has been at the pub for 24 years.

She said: “Luckily for us, we’re quite a well-known establishment, whereas a lot of the shops in the High Street change, so people don’t actually know what’s there.

“There’s so much history down here that a lot of people don’t know about. That’s what the High Street Collective is going to do, promote this area more than the town centre.”

She added that it has been nice to join the group and get to know the other traders, and would encourage other businesses to get involved.

Members of Gravesham's High Street Collective
Members of Gravesham's High Street Collective

Richard Bastow, who launched The Horizon Collection, specialising in ocean liner and cruise ship memorabilia, works in Forget-Me-Not Vintage, alongside Sarah.

He has seen an increase in footfall recently, thanks to the opening of new shops, and thinks a revitalised High Street would be “tremendous”.

He added: “If you understand the town’s past, you will appreciate the present, and its potential for the future.”

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