09 July 2021

New life on the High Street

The British High Street is in crisis. That sentence could potentially be shorter; maybe it is even true that the High Street is in crisis. People do a lot of their shopping in big shops and/or shopping centres out of town, and they shop online a lot too. That way, a lot of small shops and high streets go bust. When I moved to Bethesda, the High Street already provided a sorry sight, and in the time I have lived here, I have seen several more shops close. It rarely happens that that leads to anything other than a boarded-up shopfront or empty shop windows. Something needs to change! And one potential change would be to make the High Street smaller. The High Street here in town is also the main through road. On the outskirts of town, people just live on the ground floor of the houses that line the road. And it would make sense to only use the central part of town, where the remaining shops are, as the commercial centre, interim some of the commercial space further out back into residential purposes. And I think process is starting to happen! During my time here, the bookmaker went bust, and the shop ended up empty. But then builders appeared; they soon reverted the big shop windows to something looking a bit more residential. I think this old shop is now being turned into an apartment. And Britain has a big housing shortage, so I think that is a good thing! Would we see more of this in the near future?

One of the more depressing parts of the Bethesda high Street

The house in the scaffolding used to be a bookmaker's

Something that even pleased me more was new shops appearing. In the last year, we have seen the appearance of a new gallery, a new deli, and now a new shop opening. That last shop is a bit difficult to define; it is the high street manifestation of Cadwyn Ogwen (the Ogwen chain), which is an initiative of all sorts of local producers and manufacturers who have teamed up, and offer their wares for online purchase and delivery. There is a local cupcake bakery involved in that, and the local cheese producer, and the fishmonger and fruit grower and the local brewery and a company making wax food wraps. And a lot more. And now they have an actual shop! 

The deli, that has been open for a few months now

The brand-new Cadwyn Ogwen shop

When I popped in I bought rhubarb, kale, and a candlestick. I could also have bought dairy, art, honey, crisps and whatnot. I hope this will be a success! Would be nice if the community comes together support local businesses. It is nice if your money goes to local people who have a lot of fruit growing on their land, rather than to the third yacht of the CEO of a global chain. And if you buy your rhubarb from the very valley you live in, not much in the way of transport CO2 is produced. I like it!

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