The week ahead: sales, school holidays, swan upping, and wasps

July 17, 2017

the week ahead
There are a lot of clothing sales in Abingdon at the moment, as seen here at New Look.

Next door Valentina, part of Bury Street since 2014, has recently closed.

Thomas Cook have ‘Summer 2018′ advertised, as well as last minute deals for this year.
the week ahead
“Schools Out for Summer!” this Friday. That coincides with the arrival of the Swan Uppers in Abingdon.

Also this week will be a chance to start collecting the first blackberries before the wasps get them.

Filed under: seasons

38 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Deedee  |  July 18, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Seeing the empty shop brings back memories of a conversation I had with a shop keeper when I first moved here, the traffic system had just been modified and there was ructions regarding the disposal of the Old Gaol- he said Abingdon gets what Abingdon deserves? Or was it Abingdon deserves what Abingdon gets? He went on to say the town has been stripped of its assets to fund the rest of the county and nobody cares less!
    Pondering that conversation today I think he may be right?
    I’ve just been reading how pleased OCC are with the £8million relief road they paid for in Didcot and the £10 million contribution to the Chilton diamond interchange- but still we have no guarantees on a Diamond for Lodge Hill? Why? I note from a previous thread 240 houses for Radley? Bet they object, but their protests will fall on deaf ears just like Morland Garden did, Why? Are we not supposed to be a democracy?
    I spoke with the same shopkeeper yesterday who has a big gripe ( understandably) about Fairacres planning application to have the covenants and conditions removed from the retail park so they can sell a wider range of goods, he said the conditions were placed on the park when it was built to protect town centre vitality – The proposal on the vales web site he said has invites, publically, for both the town council and the chamber of commerce to object, yet neither have, Why? He said it’s because Fairacres pay for the towns firework display each year !!
    Thinking again about his first words I can well see where he’s coming from, Help! Abingdon is in dire straights !

  • 2. Steve  |  July 18, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Shopkeepers need to focus on providing what Abingdonians really want and need rather than blaming downturns/ shop closures on traffic or changes to Fairacres covenant conditions. I for one hate going to the soulless Fairacres, I much prefer coming in to town any day

  • 3. Helen  |  July 18, 2017 at 11:08 am

    I see your point, Steve, and to some extent I agree with you. I detest Fairacres! But when shopkeepers provide what Abingdonians will buy it’s the stuff that you can’t buy online, i.e. coffee and haircuts. And we’ve seen a lot of opinions expressed about the number of coffee shops and barbers in comments elsewhere on Backstreeter’s superb blog.
    More seriously, it seems that while one food shop like Added Ingredients can survive, there just wasn’t the footfall to keep Local Roots going as well, let alone to sustain the sort of unusual shops that we all like to see here, Outdoor Traders or the Exotics shop, because we only need a new pair of walking boots or a replacement lizard every five years or so. So the town council does need to do whatever it can to get people in from Oxford and Didcot as well as the surrounding villages.

  • 4. Abby Don  |  July 18, 2017 at 11:59 am

    I think one of the options short term at least is to do more of the small stall fairs, where Stert Street is closed to traffic and antique / craft/ alternative food etc can be set up, with the stall also running into Bury Street so people can be drawn down to see what there is.

    It might increase footfall and make the town centre more viable. It’s something you can’t do in a soulless out of town mall. We need to use what we have, an historic market town centre.

  • 5. Steve  |  July 18, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Maybe we can use the collective readership of Backstreeter’s blog to survey the extra shops we’d like to see in Abingdon. For me it’s: a butcher, a Robert Dyas, a record shop specialising in vinyl, an old fashioned sweet shop

  • 6. pjh64  |  July 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    The burden of rent and business rates means most small shops simply aren’t viable. This applies across the UK, not just in Abingdon. It requires a UK solution.

    Couple this with the increasing consumer propensity to shop online, and it would take a very brave / foolish person to launch an independent store these days, unless what they sell is totally unique or only deliverable personally (as others have mentioned, coffee and haircuts).

  • 7. Captainkaos2  |  July 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Steve, done that mate, got ASK here all those years ago, then Costa and even Whethrspoons, tried desperately with Robert Dyas just 3 years ago, they were good to deal with even to the pint of sending their aquasition team to town followed by footfall counters, but sadly declared a store would only dilute their current stores in Witney, Didcot, Thame and Oxford, once more we’ve missed the boat !

  • 8. Daniel  |  July 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Steve/Abbey Don; these things have been mooted before, and/or Tried but failed.

    The Market….the best you’ll get is, “set one up yourself”… and the same for a shop. Despite them being good ideas….

    Alas, ideas are easy. When your rates(?), Or rent (?) is suddenly increaed by £7000 pa…that gives you little wriggle room (i believe this is the case for some of the shops closing recently).

    Whilst the business, and the running of it comes down to the owner, it isn’t helped by the red tape merrily enforced by The Veil, or relevant council. An example…. Local Roots – a good idea for a shop – wanted to put up a ’swinging sign’ to suit it’s retail offer and be suitabley inkeeping. But, as an independent The Veil council demanded architectural drawings, planning consent and all manor of outlay…before a possible ‘no’ decision. Painting the frontage bright orange has no such requirements…

    Or… to put a table on the Market Place….costs how much exactly for a local independent cafe?

    Everyone wants their pound of flesh…and first in line is The Veil…then the others.

    But, why worry? The flowers look lovely….

  • 9. Iain  |  July 18, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    We have a good butcher on Queen Street (Hedges) and a hardware store (used to be Knights) at the bottom of Ock Street. There was a sweet shop a few years ago, Sweet Chocolate, but I dont think it got enough custom.

  • 10. Steve  |  July 18, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Thanks Iain, I wasn’t aware there was a butcher, I will pay a visit! I know the hardware store you mean – great kit but I’d say that it was more geared towards the trade, like a Screwfix. I guess that leaves my record store idea then, has Abingdon ever had one of those?

  • 11. Captainkaos2  |  July 18, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Ian, you just capped it, there was a planning application on the butchers, knights , aka Sydnams is now a builders merchants and a far cry from the old hardware store we all loved and as you rightly say the chocolate shop closed because of lack of footfall .
    As the earlier post suggested no one is fighting Abingdon’s corner ? If M&S have been wanting to open here for ages, as they have apparently said, why didn’t new river capital (or who ever the precinct landlords are called this year) prospect them? And what of the BID? What an abismal joke that is? And so it goes on and on, gain and again we are being short changed, residents, visitors and shop keepets alike all let down !

  • 12. Sarah  |  July 18, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Modern Music sold instruments and records. It closed about 12 years ago. When WH Smith came I was surprised it didn’t sell records … just books and stationery, duplicating what the town already had. I think a music shop is a great idea, but the young don’t buy physical music any more, alas. Its all digital downloads now …

  • 13. Chris John  |  July 18, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    Take a trip to any “small” town and you will see exactly the same going on there. Coffee shops, estate agents, charity shop, barbers etc. Times are changing and people like to go to out of town centres and supermarket chains because they get the best deals there, hence local shops shut down. Also internet shopping has taken its toll. As for a record shop there just isn’t the need for one as it’s all about downloads these days not records.

  • 14. Captainkaos2  |  July 18, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Sarah et, often we go to Marlow (and Henley) potentially Abingdon has more footfall than both and certainly just as expensive chimney pots, so why is it we don’t have :- White company. Monsoon, Oasis, Mint Velvet, Sweaty Betty etc and s plethora of independent shops?
    Simple, our priorities are all wrong, for a decade or more the movers and shakers of Abingdon have closeted the town to their own ambitions which unfortunately have held us back so much that any sort of recovery is pretty much impossible!
    As mentioned previously with the lifting of the covenants on fairacres and the proposed park & ride to Oxfords new 100 shop precinct will just about finish Abingdon as far as a shopping experience is concerned!
    So what now for Abingdon ? It’s so easy, turn every disadvantage into an advantage!
    We don’t exploit our river? Our heritage? Our independents? Our uniqueness? I say again the BID, that was meant to be the saviour of town has proved to be nothing more than an exercise in how to milk a town and its businesses of money to a bunch of consultants who are all on the take !

  • 15. Steve  |  July 18, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Re: record shops, vinyl is having a resurgence: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-38487837
    Truck Records in Cowley Rd seem to be doing quite nicely, I would love to see a shop like that in Abingdon

  • 16. Iain  |  July 18, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    i thought the planning application for Hedges was also accompanied by a relocation of the butchers to Stert St Steve (CK) but I may have misunderstood.

    Other Steve, definitely try Hedges, it’s one of the town’s hidden gems.

  • 17. Daniel  |  July 18, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    I have to agree with Steve…”vinyl’s dead” is old news. The new news is that vinyl’s HUGE and getting bigger.

    I also agree with ck.. it is old news that the highstreet is dead. The resurgence for the highstreet is taking off….elsewhere.

    I absolutely do not know the answers; but thankfully I am not charged (or, indeed, ‘charging you’) with coming up with a solution. Someone knows the answers. Someone could turn the turn around…but whilst the flowers look so lovely, and the market place is busy til noon almost a couple of times a month…things will continue to be good enough.

  • 18. ppjs  |  July 19, 2017 at 5:11 am

    Hedges is great – always helpful and cheerful. Nicely hidden too!

  • 19. rudi  |  July 19, 2017 at 7:04 am

    used to love haken and bell back in the day – big music area, big musical instrument area.
    times change though – it’s a relic of the past and not coming back.

  • 20. Martin Gulliver  |  July 19, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I’m reminded of a comment made on here some years back…where in Abingdon can a chap buy socks? i think the same goes for boxers too! Music wide, i remember Martins News agents , i think it was on the square where the jewellers is now had an upstairs that sold Cds.

  • 21. Martin Gulliver  |  July 19, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I’m reminded of a comment made on here some years back…where in Abingdon can a chap buy socks? i think the same goes for boxers too! Music wise, I remember Martins News agents , I think it was on the square where the jewellers is now had an upstairs that sold Cds.

  • 22. Captainkaos2  |  July 19, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Just heard the nursery shop in stet street is closing!

  • 23. Hester  |  July 19, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Capt K – are you absolutely sure about that? Someone was putting that rumour about on Facebook last week and they flatly denied it: they were also – understandably – quite annoyed that the rumour was going around. Unless you have heard it directly from them it might be worth checking.

  • 24. Captainkaos2  |  July 19, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Hi H, was told this morning by a well known and trusted business person in town who said the owner herself told him yesterday?

  • 25. Annabel  |  July 19, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    I’m in Brighton at the moment, and this afternoon have been shopping in North Laine (not to be confused with The over touristy Lanes). This is lined with retro vintage shops, quirky boutiques, ice-cream parlours and eateries, plus a few more specialised small chains, plus vinyl record and second hand book shops. It is a great mix and is what Abingdon could be…

  • 26. Captainkaos2  |  July 19, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Annabel you are spot on , but as I’ve said previously no one is fighting our corner, this afternoon be written to half a dozen companies asking them to consider Abingdon, the children’s shoe comp, the white comp, monsoon, lock fyne, so far I’ve had on positive response, but this should be the work of the BID, not an individual like me !
    Also today I’ve learned of a pick pocket operating in town, last week he took a purse from a woman in the Heart foundation shop, next day 2 purses from women in the Coop, my wife was telling staff of New Look about it who knew nothing of it, there was a time when shops shared an alert text system, a bit like pub watch, why isn’t this being done? Another subject the BID has failed to tackle !

  • 27. Scarecrow  |  July 19, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    Sorry Captain K but beg to differ on your comment #11 re. Sydenhams. I personally find it little changed from the old Knights and very different from the likes of builders merchant Jewson or indeed Screwfix. Much of the staff remain from the Knight’s day and are just as helpful as previous. Happened to be in there today for a project I’m doing at home. Know what I wanted to do but not sure what I needed. Spent a full 10 mins with one staff member who guided me round discussing options & even helped me load the car at the end. Try getting that level of service at any other Abingdon hardware outlet.

  • 28. Hester  |  July 19, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    I know I have said this before but why do we persist in defining Abingdon just by its shops? There have been some interesting discussions on another local blog where people – of all ages – talk about what they like about living here and there are all sorts of answers. Yes, it would be great to be able to,shop locally for everything, but you can’t help but wonder if in this day and age it is realistic to expect a town the size of Abingdon – and with a fairly diverse population – to be able to support the range of shops that would keep everybody happy. Some people would welcome an area like the North Laine, others would like us to be like Burford, others want Next and M&S. But there are only 35000 of us so we couldn’t support all of them. Perhaps we should appreciate and support the wonderful specialist independents we have got, but accept that we may not easily be able to attract more – instead focus on improving other aspects of Abingdon life – in particular leisure/entertainment and community facilities for all ages.

  • 29. Steve  |  July 19, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    CK: Who is it readers should reach out to re: BID, is the appropriate person Michelle Baker? (Name I found from a random Twitter feed). Is there a web site?

  • 30. Reductio ad absurdum  |  July 19, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    The BID has been re-branded as Visit Abingdon
    http://www.visitabingdon.co.uk/index.php

  • 31. hester  |  July 19, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Julie Downing BID Manager 07552 217437 julie@visitabingdon.co.uk

  • 32. Captainkaos2  |  July 19, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Scarecrow, no way on earth can you compare Sydenham’s to knights, Mervin and Andrew were the font of all building and diy information and if they couldn’t accommodate your requests then the verbal assassination they gave out to all and sundry was priceless. Moreover Mervin was a council candidate and a member of all things Abingdon !
    Hester, of course we should appreciate and support our wonderful independents but they alone cannot sustain our town or themselves, just look at the indies we’ve lost or are losing recently?
    Patisserie Pascal, Outdoor Traders. Dapper Strret. The Nursery Shop. Exotic Pets. No Tag. Valentino. Marie. Angela’s Hair. The Bridal Shop, AHH Printers, Abode. Scuffs. Bath st shoe shop. Tic Toc. Bath st Bistro. Smiths Chemist. Poppy’s flowers. How do you define a town ?
    Steve, never heard of Michelle Baker, the BID web site is “visit Abingdon” it’s the same guy who runs the Newbury BID called visit Newbury, he also created and folded 3 other potentialBID companies (its all on companies house) when the protagonist of the abingdon bid realised they didn’t have the brains to run it they ( that’s the husband and wife couple from a precinct business along with a woman from another town centre shop and a chap called bill brown) handed the lot over to “consultants ” who happened to be the guy from Newbury who then appointed his wife as BID manageress for Abingdon ( you couldn’t make this up)
    Now the entire pot of compulsory collected levy from each town centre business is handed over, without question or justification to the visit abingdon consultants who have so far refused to supply a detailed set if accounts and refused to hold an Agm! Meanwhile businesses are legally obliged to pay into this farce which after 14 months have only managed to put up half a dozen lengths of buntin!
    Hang your heads in shame protagonists, you’ve stitched Abingdon’s businesses up !

  • 33. Scarecrow  |  July 19, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Disappointed Capt that you feel the current Sydenham set-up is inferior to Knights. Perhaps you have personally had a negative experience since the change. Indeed, Andrew and Merv were absolutely brilliant, as was Fred himself back in the day, which I do not dispute. I confess I had my own reservations initially. My point is only that in my experience very little has changed with the knowledgeable personal touch and the existence of this outlet remains a great benefit to Abingdon.

  • 34. Steve  |  July 19, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    RAA/ Hester/ CK, thanks for the BID info. Reading the BID site their primary aim seems to be to boost tourism (an ‘outside in’ strategy, i.e. attracting people in on the strength of Abingdon’s heritage, the Thames etc), but by the same token Abingdon also needs an ‘inside out’ strategy whereby some basic conditions are set to encourage a platform for the business community to prosper (reasonable business rates, customer parking etc). The additional customer touch ‘magic’ is provided by the businesses themselves to act as a magnet, like you see in The Finishing Touch. Given this, I can’t see how BID can be held responsible for the ‘inside out’ strategy that I think CK is wanting? Surely this is for the council? Are readers not better directing their ire at the council rather than BID? I appreciate the issues are complex, we really need a steering committee to work things through, rather than via a web board!

  • 35. Reductio ad absurdum  |  July 20, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Mitchell Baker was the consultant employed to push the BID forward.
    Given the current issues around financial transparency of the BID her comments on this very forum http://www.abingdonblog.co.uk/?p=14860#comments particularly comment 47 onwards are very interesting. Note that these comments were made by a representative of the BID before voting took place and so could be construed as part of the ‘contract’ those who voted yes voted for..

  • 36. Hester  |  July 20, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Steve – the Town Council will shortly be launching the “Community-Led Plan” process – there is some information on their website. The launch date isn’t mentioned, but it is booked for 4 September. Although I don’t kid myself that this will solve all our problems, it will provide an opportunity for those who have constructive ideas to feed them in to Councillors in a structured way and hopefully help make some of them happen.
    Re the BID – their original remit was wider than “Visit Abingdon” (which incidentally is aimed at locals as well as tourists). However it is supposed to be led by a Board of local business people who then employ and direct the manager. Sadly, whether because they are too busy running their own businesses, or for other reasons, it seems that not many of them are willing/able to commit to being part of it – so, as is so often the case the work falls to the few who are – and they get the rap for lack of results.

  • 37. Reductio ad absurdum  |  July 20, 2017 at 9:34 am

    In the FAQ’s on the original bid web site it clearly states that ” It is likely this will be formed from the members of the current BID Executive Team” but my understanding is that a significant number of those have now ‘jumped ship’ so it’s a bit off, I thank, to blame the lack of any tangible impact from the BID on businesses who were either against it in the first place or persuaded into it by people who themselves seem no longer prepared to be involved.

  • 38. Steve  |  July 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Hester, thanks for the heads-up, just read the Community-led plan presentation. A good initiative but focused on improving the quality of life in Abingdon (more equipment for kids etc) – all important issues of course but Abingdon also needs a separate commercial plan. If BID is not delivering on this then someone else in authority needs to pick up the baton – the question is who? Perhaps Matthew Barber’s dept.?

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