Running a BID always has its challenges, but comes with great rewards too. The Experience Guildford (EG) team are always bouncing between different requests and projects, there’s always a lot of plates to spin.
For example, we could be attending a first aid incident one minute and clearing a dead pigeon from a shop doorstep the next. Or, organising a huge town event like the Christmas light switch on whilst lobbying government (local and national) for business support. It is never boring. It is the successes that stay with me though.
The knowledge I have helped a business to launch, that a shop has got a valuable contact they didn’t have before, that I have helped join the dots between individuals and groups to ease a partnership approach to an issue in the town all stay with me. They remind me that EG is here to help the town run as smoothly and safely as possible with an emphasis on 24 hour support for the businesses – whatever they need.
My mantra has always been “Just ask”. If we don’t know the answer to a question, we’ll make every effort to find it. Businesses can’t spend time digging around for information, they are too busy running their shop, pub, theatre, gym, etc. It is imperative that EG does everything in our power to find a solution for them.
Looking at the town centre of late, you would be forgiven for thinking that there are too many empty shops and with the much (nationally) discussed “decline of the High Street” it is easy to see how you might be worried about Guildford becoming a ghost town. I am here to reassure everyone, that is not the case. Retail environments go through cycles. Yes, the High Street is changing and no, it won’t ever be the same. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be better than it was. COVID-19 has forced a change in people’s values. Space, family and friends, wellbeing and leisure time are now more important to us then they ever were. For a town centre to evolve these changed values need to be catered for.
Will Guildford evolve into a more “local” town? Why not? It is clear that lockdown and the surge in working from home had increased the volume of local walk-in trade. Guildford needs to cater for its community on the doorstep. Sure, retail will begin to flourish again, new independents will tap into the fiercely loyal local shopper market, community spaces will be more important and the experience of coming to Guildford will be different, but just as welcoming.
That is why I am so excited to be working with Completely Retail on the Experience Guildford town centre property portal. It is so important that marketing these empty units is done in a joined-up, uniformed way, a one-stop-shop as it were. We want to attract businesses to Guildford who can tap into this well established local market and attract visitors from further afield. Using the new portal they will be able to see all of the availability, where their new site might sit in relation to other businesses, and get advice and all the details from local property experts.
We look forward to welcoming new businesses of all types and sizes to Guildford, filling the retail and leisure gaps and adding to the diverse offering of this wonderful town.
This blog was written by Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford Business Improvement District
We look forward to welcoming new businesses of all types and sizes to Guildford, filling the retail and leisure gaps and adding to the diverse offering of this wonderful town.Amanda Masters Experience Guildford