Empty shops: Harrogate's new idea launched

Pioneering new shop in Harrogate - Matthew Hopkins, managing director of Harrogate-based company The Great British Exchange, right, with Max Charlish and Keir Hayter.
Pioneering new shop in Harrogate - Matthew Hopkins, managing director of Harrogate-based company The Great British Exchange, right, with Max Charlish and Keir Hayter.

A Harrogate retail expert has come up with a novel way of filling empty retail units in Harrogate town centre this week.

The concept has been developed by Matthew Hopkins, managing director of Harrogate-based company The Great British Exchange.
This Thursday will see him launch a pioneering demo store on Parliament Street in thersite of the former Exit Interiors shop.


Called The British Gift Co, iIn the run up to its opening, the windows of the shop will be completely blacked out except for a series of peepholes which give shoppers a sneak preview of what to expect.


Week by week, passers-by will be able to view changing window displays and there will be regular competitions and in-store tastings.
Showcasing a hamper service and corporate gift sfrom local, British and small batch producers, Matthew Hopkins says the high street can still survive and thrive if it adopts new approaches.


He said: “Being a retailer in 2018 is scary but for the past three years The Great British Exchange has been researching survival strategies and helping our clients source newness and variety for their stores whilst providing a route to market for emerging British brands.
"We felt the time was right to demonstrate this in a physical shop rather than just talking about it.”


“People still love to shop but retail as we know it is changing and we want to prove that an edgy store environment, knowledgeable and helpful staff and a strong mix of traditional and trend led products can tempt customers back to the high street,”
“It’s time to put our money where our mouth is and show people what we really mean when we tell retailers to do things differently,”


The British Gift Co from The Great British Exchange will be open in Harrogate for a three-month retail experiment.


If successful, organisers hope it will become a permanent feature of the Harrogate high street and will also serve as a pioneering demo store to advise retailers from across the UK on high street survival tactics

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