Wallingford town centre is booming with new businesses, showing recovery after the retail industry suffered due to the pandemic.

Business owners believe the reason for this success is the community support and the town’s ethos of shopping locally.

The Local Government Association says the number of vacant units nationally has been increasing since 2018.

Read more: New indoor market a success raising £100 for charity

According to the town's Mayor, Marcus Harris, there are currently no retail units available to rent in the town centre, backing the trend elsewhere.

He added: “We do still have empty units, but the empty units are either already under offer or they are not available on the market yet; but right now, if you rolled in an wanted to rent a shop in Wallingford, you can’t get one.”

Ten new businesses have opened their doors since summer in the South Oxfordshire Market Town, these include: Jim Beans, Grape Minds, Spin and Sparkle, Aspa, Soiree, Five Little Pigs, The Keep, Wallingford Butchers and The fountain Coffee Shop, and Soph’s Loafs.

Mr Harris continued: “We are very fortunate; we are right in the middle of a lot of other places that have got huge numbers of shops, but we still got very much the old town culture.

“There is a magic about Wallingford, and I suspect that’s what drives so many new businesses to want to open here.”

Oxford Mail: Five Little Pigs

Rob McGregor, 32, co-owner of the Five Little Pigs restaurant grew up in the town and has seen first-hand what makes the town great for businesses.

He said: “The demographic is changing; the town is growing. We are trying to bring people into town. There aren’t many big chains here and there are a lot of independent shops. I think that’s why Wallingford works for new businesses.

Oxford Mail: Jim Beans

Jim Harris, 31, from Jim Beans, opened his coffee shop two weeks ago, since then, the shop has been getting “busier and busier”.

He said: “I opened the shop here because it is my hometown, it made sense. Wallingford is a nice historic town that is getting busier, and there is a big movement to shop independently.”

Oxford Mail:

Soirée, opened its doors in October, the Gatsby inspired cocktail bar gives something different to town, according to manager James Purcell.

He said: “The community has been very supportive. People come for something different, something special. There is nowhere in town that does cocktails like us and its this unique.”


Oxford Mail: Aspa - Scandinavian interior design

One of the most recent businesses - opening at the end of November - is Aspa, a Scandinavian interior design shop.

Its owner Silvya Merrit said: “I like the town because it is a place with character. I believe people are ready for something different and there is a lot of interest for it.”

Oxford Mail: Spin and Sparkle

Lucy Harley, 31, believes that it is independent shops what make Wallingford special, she opened her dance shop in September, making it the only dance shop in town.

Grape Minds also opened in the same month and became the only independent wine shop, according to co-owner Graeme Woodward, 30.

Oxford Mail: Grape Minds

After opening their shop, he and co-owner Michael Jelley have seen the great community support given to independent shops.

He came to the conclusion that “community is what makes Wallingford great for retail.”


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