Independent traders celebrate Chepstow town centre

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TOWN centres have bit hit hard in the past few years, with waning trade exacerbated by coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom.

We spoke to some of the independent traders in the centre of Chepstow to find out what makes the town so great.

Matt Taylor, from Chepstow Books and Gifts, said that the town centre attracts an “excellent mix of locals, day trippers and tourists”.

“I walk in each day across the beautiful Wye bridge and either along the riverfront or past the castle and it is easy to forget how lucky we are to live where we do,” he said.

“We have a surprisingly strong mix of shops from a national chain like Marks and Spencer to independent coffee shops and us as a bookshop.

“We had incredible support from our customers during the lockdowns and people’s reactions when they could come back into the shop showed us just what we meant to people.

“I very much hope that continues. We have a curated selection of the biggest new releases and if we don’t have something in stock we can get 100,000s of books in the next day.”

Just up St Mary’s Street is Paint On Me Boutique Pottery, run by Gail Gilliland.

“We have a really supportive community, loyal customers with a great variety of independent shops with fabulous customer service,” Ms Gilliland said.

“We’re also an easy stop off on the way back or going to Wales or England.

“Make sure you pop into see us when you’re next in Chepstow.

At the other end of town, at the top of the high street, is something of a Chepstow institution.

Deacons Florists has been in the town for more than years, located near the White Lion pub and the historic town arch.

Katie Ralph, who runs the place, said: “The town has a lovely business community where we all try to support each other as much as possible.

“What I love about being a retail florist in the high street, as opposed to working from a studio, is the people.

“Obviously we have our regular customers that have been visiting us for years, but its always a delight to meet new customers.”

Ms Ralph said that following lockdown business had been booming.

“We have gained a wider customer base,” she said.

“People who lived in Chepstow, but never really shopped here are now shopping locally which is lovely.

“I’ve been meeting people who tell me they’ve lived in the town for years but have never been in my shop.

“When they then tell me how beautiful it is and that they will be back it’s such a lovely feeling.

Ms Ralph says she feels “so lucky to live in such a beautiful place”.

“The indie traders are all proud of their businesses and also take care of their premises,” she said.

“If you look around the town, it’s the indies which have the cleanest, smartest shops!”