Retail guru Mary Portas helps out traders
RETAIL expert and TV personality Mary Portas visited Bedminster to offer advice and guidance to traders.
She first met the Bedminster Town Team to check on the progress of the area since it was designated as one of 12 "Portas Pilot Towns" – a scheme designed to regenerate the local high street.
The town team includes key players such as the council, local landlords, business owners and MPs, who are trying to make its shopping streets the "beating heart of the community" in Bedminster.
Ms Portas took a walking tour of the area, popping into shops to talk to traders along the way.
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She began at Cafe Grounded in Bedminster Parade and then made her way along East Street.
She was impressed by what she found at East Street Fruit Market where owner Darren Jones has set up a market stall outside his shop.
"Mary liked my set up and how all the produce was arranged," he said.
"One thing she said was great was the way I have a stall on the street to encourage people in." After lunch in the Tobacco Factory, Ms Portas visited Ashton Fruit Shop in North Street, where she met Bristol mayor George Ferguson, who presented her with a Bristol pound and explained the scheme.
She was also treated to a performance by Show of Strength Theatre Company, which has been performing a series of plays called Trading Local in the area's shops.
The retail expert then walked up North Street, where she popped into independent iron mongers Lions Store. Owner Derek Knapman said: "I think anything that raises the profile of the area is great. Having Mary Portas promote it is brilliant because as a celebrity she helps give it publicity, but she also seems to know what she's talking about."
Ms Portas finished her tour of the area in Upfest Gallery, where she was shown one of the 82 "Beautiful Bugs of Bedminster" – which will appear as part of an art trail from March 14.
Bedminster was chosen to receive a share of £1.2 million Government funding – £100,000 – along with the 12 other UK towns.
The overall winner of the scheme will be announced next month and will receive funding to support further regeneration projects.
Ms Portas told The Post: "Bedminster has a very organised town team and I've been very impressed by what I've seen here.
"One idea I've had is to create a food quarter in Bedminster, and looking at Cannon Street, it would make a great Polish quarter."
Resident Ben Barker told The Post: "This has been a great project for Bedminster and a chance to work with traders and residents to put their ideas for the area into action.
"The bug project celebrates the association of the area with urban art while also building a family attraction to bring new shoppers and diners to the area."