COMMUNITY spirit is keeping Southbourne going through difficult times, according to its traders.
High streets across the country are facing changing shopping habits, the ongoing affects of the pandemic, and now soaring costs in the approach to winter.
But Southbourne remains oozing with optimism, community spirit and thriving independents.
A talk with business owners, and traders in the Bournemouth suburb revealed some of the key factors behind this.
Simon Bentley, who owns The Wight Bear, said: “I think the level of quality of all the independent traders is what keeps us going.
“You can be here from your first cup of tea in the morning, to your last pint in the evening. There’s so much choice here for everyone, from your old school bakehouse patisserie to a bespoke cheese shop across the road, to Spanish tapas and Harry’s [Coffee House].
“And everyone’s small enough that they don’t tread on each other’s toes.”
Other traders agreed that the variety of shops meant companies weren’t clashing heads, and instead worked together.
James Fowler, who owns The Larder House, said: “We all just work together, and we all know we’re doing different things.”
His wife, Meg, added: “If there are similarities, people welcome it, and support it. It’s a real community. It’s always been like that in Southbourne, I haven’t seen that anywhere else.”
The newly launched campaign Love Southbourne has also kept spirits high in the suburb.
Both James Fowler and Simon Bentley have been behind this project, which was launched to celebrate independent traders.
Since its launch, Love Southbourne has been praised by business owners and residents who are keen to support the campaign in any way they can.
Karen, owner of Tilly’s Gifts and a supporter of Love Southbourne, said: “It’s a thriving, exciting and full high street at the minute, and we want to keep it that way. Love Southbourne is a step in the right direction. It feels very community driven.”
James added: “There’s a clear need for it, and there’s a clear passion coming from the traders that they want to get involved and express themselves.”