Littlehampton independent business urges shoppers to look beyond the high street

With shops across the town preparing to reopen to face-to-face customers from Monday, one of Littlehampton’s independent businesses is encouraging people to think beyond the high street.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 4:18 pm

Helen Donovan, owner of Bees Knees in Evans Gardens, is passionate about championing hers and the other 40-plus independent shops in the wider town centre.

Lockdown has meant she has had to completely rethink her pre-loved clothing business, and is now selling new clothes and toys for children, as well as gifts, online. She will reopen her store on April 12, so long as lockdown restrictions are lifted as planned.

She said: “I couldn’t carry on with my business as it was because of the rules around keeping second-hand clothes to one side for several days.

Helen Donovan of Bees Knees and Rosie Mayhead from Midnight Blush in Evans Gardens

“It’s forced me to adapt, which I think is a good thing, and it’s given me time to completely update the shop.

“When the shop had to close, I started doing live Facebook selling nights, and because I’m quite a character, people seemed to love tuning in. Some said it was like a comedy act, and others said they bought things just because I was so much fun!

“It’s going to be a bit of a change seeing people in person in the shop again, but I hope people will come and see what we have to offer outside of the high street.”

Mum-of-five Helen, along with neighbouring shops Midnight Blush and Way Out There and Back is planning to open at midnight, and will offer a 50 per cent sale.

And she might even do a conga through the town picking up customers on her way to the shops so they don’t have to walk alone at night.

She said she was fed up of people being negative about Littlehampton, and thinks Arun District Council could more to promote independent offerings like hers .

She added: “People being like that about Littlehampton is frustrating. And it’s not helped by the council, because whenever they talk about the town centre they are talking about the main strip.

“Us in the outskirts never feel included. I’ve looked at going into the high street, and it would cost me 15/20 times what I’m paying now, which is just so unaffordable.

“But if people just venture a little bit further, there are so many lovely shops. Just in our small close we have clothes from newborn to adults, gifts, art and so much more.

“There’s also a lovely Portuguese restaurant nearby that does amazing coffee and a guy that restores furniture.

“But without any signposting or publicity, people don’t know what’s here.We need people to do more, so people don’t just moan about the town centre on Facebook and think there’s only the high street and national chains.”

A spokesman from Arun District Council said: “Arun District Council is extremely proud and supportive of all the independent shops and businesses which bring so much character and value to Littlehampton town centre.

“Once lockdown is eased and all Littlehampton’s shops, restaurants and bars are allowed to trade freely again, we will continue to work hand in hand with Littlehampton Traders Partnership to create promotional activities which encourage people to “Shop Local, Shop Safely and Shop Littlehampton.

“We value all Littlehampton’s independent shops and want all the town’s retailers to thrive and contribute to the town’s unique atmosphere.”