A growing and thriving independent shops community – Welcome to Arbery Arcade, Wantage
"…when deciding to open our first shop, Wantage was the obvious location for us."
One of the key strengths and attractions of Wantage town centre is our great group of independent shops. And one of the biggest changes since our town team project started in 2013 is at Arbery Arcade. Then there were three businesses in the Arcade behind Costa, with a row of still to be finished units. Today its home to a buzzing community of 10 shops plus a barber's and two salons.
Longest serving in the Arcade now is the upcycled furniture, home accessories and gifts shop, Arbery Emporium, which started as part of the town team's second Flashop pop up shop project in one of the two units facing onto Church Street. After a run in the pop-up shop, Arbery Emporium's owner Gail Crowther took on a lease in the unit directly. Gail says: "Originally, we opened for a month as part of the Wantage Flashop initiative. The people of Wantage and other local towns have been very supportive and our furniture, cushions etc. are in many local homes. The Arcade is now thriving with some fantastic shops and a great atmosphere; we are proud to be part of it."
The availability of small units and the options to start on flexible terms have proved to be an attraction to a range of businesses looking to take their first town centre step. Shawn Bold, opened his Bold Antiques in the Arcade in 2017, but quickly opted to move into a larger unit that had become available. Shawn says: "It's a lovely Arcade with lovely independent shops. I moved two shops up into bigger premises as my customers wanted me to get even more stock as they loved what I had. This seems to be working."
That option to start small in Arbery and grow is also proving to be a benefit to the wider Wantage town centre. Two businesses that took their first steps in the town at Arbery Arcade – sports shop Wild Wickets and retro and new gaming, comics and toys centre, Toy Planet, started there, but now have shops of their own on Mill Street.
A 2018 arrival in Arbery Arcade is Lisa-Marie Foster's jewellery and accessories business, Bisoux. Lisa-Marie has had pop up shop stores in a number of towns, including a run in the Arbery Arcade Flashop. She says: "Bisoux have been specialising in ladies fashion jewellery and accessories since 2012 and over the years we've always enjoyed working in and around Wantage. That's why, when deciding to open our first shop, Wantage was the obvious location for us. It's always had a lovely welcoming vibe and we're very excited to be part of a growing range of fantastic independent shops and small businesses in this lovely, lively little market town."
With Bisoux's arrival in February 2018, Arbery Arcade was fully let once more, with Nick's Dragons fantasy-themed gift store, M&A Electricals, Bahar Interiors, Violet-Jean vintage gifts & collectibles, and Play it Again vinyl records featuring in the shops line up, along with Clark's Barbershop, La Vita beauty treatments and the Bronzing Boutique.
Two of the current shops there, Beth Sparrow's quality leather bags and accessories shop, Meryn, and Tracey Smith's Sweetpeas, which sells kids clothing, age 3 months to 4 years, plus handcrafted wooden toys and a selection of Jellycat toys and books - opened on the same day. Beth says: "Having been part of the Arcade for almost a year, it's wonderful to have seen it fill up with such a variety of shops. Mine (Meryn) is a little different to the other shops in the Arcade as it is both a workspace and a shop. All of the items for sale in the shop have been handcrafted by me, right here in the Arcade, so not only can customers see me at work they can also order handmade leather belts and bags to suit their exact requirements."
Tracey adds: "The Arbery Arcade is now full of unique and individual shops, and we'd love people to stroll through and enjoy what each has to offer, embracing the warm and friendly atmosphere that we appreciate every day." Make Arbery Arcade part of your #shoplocal trip to Wantage town centre!
© Wantage Town Council