Almost 60 independent retailers, high street shops, businesses, cafes and restaurants as well as market stalls in Stowmarket have signed up to join the Virtual High Street as it launches in the town.
The Virtual High Street brings the local high street into the homes of customers before they visit in person, making shopping local and supporting local businesses even easier.
By using the Virtual High Street, shoppers can benefit from even more ways to access their favourite local shops online, browse stock, place orders and arrange click and collect or delivery.
Over the past 18 months, the way many people are shopping has changed and the desire to shop local and support local businesses has increased. The Virtual High Street will complement the way people want to shop allowing them to access the very best of Stowmarket’s high street anywhere, anytime.
Many of the stalls found at Stowmarket’s popular market can be found on the Virtual High Street including Kev’s Pick & Mix Sweets, FM Cosmetics, Butlers Burgers, Orwell Local Foods, Emmas Florist, Love Refills, Sew’n’chic, Rare Items, JLS Watches, Gifts Galore, Clearstone Windows, Greetings and Rob Hollingsworth.
Owner of Orwell Local Foods, Adrian Hearne said: “I’m really excited to join the Virtual High Street in Stowmarket to share special offers and showcase the seasonal produce that will be found on my market stall each week. I’ve been selling locally produced food for over 10 years and my customers are very loyal and it’s great to have another way to interact with them and keep that relationship going outside market days.”
Among the businesses signed up are several fashion boutiques such as Style at Stow, Molls & Dolls Boutique, Inces and G Tydeman Jewellers. As well as finding the latest fashion, shoppers can also find a selection of health, beauty and wellbeing businesses including Sharon Louise Beauty and Tanning, Studio 19 Hair Design, Reflexology Time for You, M Cut, Be.YOU.tiful, Turkish Barbers and Realise Futures CIC.
Foodies have plenty of choice on the Virtual High Street with Bonitas Wholefoods, Little Pig Bakery, Pickwicks and the Stowmarket Snack Shop.
There are plenty of independent gift and homeware stores to discover such as Wonderful Whiffs, The Olive Branch, Heathers, Lolah’s Forever Furniture and Homemade Gifts, Handy Hardware and the Sewing Machine Centre.
In addition, there are a number of creative services, finance, property and training providers as well as travel advisors and the Stowmarket Library.
Visitors can explore the town before they visit with the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts and The Mix both listed on the Virtual High Street.
The first Virtual High Street was built upon a concept launched in Sudbury in March 2020 after Sudbury Town Council identified an opportunity to support businesses during the first unprecedented national lockdown. In October, following investment from Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, the platform was relaunched with additional functionality.
The businesses on the Stowmarket Virtual High Street will be joining 53 shops listed on the new Hadleigh Virtual High Street and over 130 already signed up on the existing platform in Sudbury.
Investment from the Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund (SIGIF) means that Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have been able to expand the Virtual High Street to Stowmarket and Hadleigh with Needham Market and Eye launching in the coming months.
Commenting on the Virtual High Street, Cllr Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet member for economic growth commented: “The Virtual High Street will be a great asset to the businesses in Stowmarket who will be able to showcase their products and offers to shoppers both in Stowmarket and further afield.
“We have a bustling high street and market with many independent retailers, and we recently announced exciting news that we have another three open or about to open shortly. I am delighted that we can support businesses in our town to grow both online as well as on the high street.”
To help businesses make the most of the Virtual High Street and improve their online presence both on the Virtual High Street and beyond, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are launching a free digital skills programme. Open to businesses signed up to the Virtual High Street, the programme will include a range of topics including how to get the most out of your individual page on the Virtual High Street, online security, and social media marketing.
To find out more about the Virtual High Street or to sign up a business, please visit: www.virtualhightstreet.uk