Overcrowded shopping centres are not my idea of fun when it comes to shopping for Christmas presents. I prefer avoiding them altogether and heading to hidden gems that you are more likely to find in our town centres.
Ilkeston town centre remains a great place to pick up Christmas gifts, though many of the town’s independent traders feel that shoppers stray out-of-town,to Derby and Nottingham for their festive goods.
The ‘Tiser headed up Bath Street to see what goodies we could find to fill our loved ones stockings and bellies on Christmas day.
Of course, loved ones doesn’t just mean our family and friends. Lots of people will be buying presents for their beloved pets too. Beverley Chambers, from Chambers Pet Supplies, said: “Lots of people start buying for their pets in the two weeks before Christmas. People also buy pets from us, including rabbits and guinea pigs for their children. More people need to shop in town, it is picking up since the free parking started.”
Paul Walkers Butchers is preparing for a busy couple of weeks as people start thinking about their Christmas dinner. Three weeks before Christmas they already had more than 170 turkey orders. Natasha Parry said they shop has many loyal customers since it opened 20 years ago, but a bigger variety of shops was needed in Ilkeston.
Despite a lot of shops closing on Bath Street there are still some success stories. Memorable Events, run by Emma Greedy and mum Mandy, opened in October and has helped breath new life into the top of Bath Street. As well as planning events such as weddings, they also sell a range of imaginative gifts in their shop, including decorative wine glasses, earrings and personalised candles, including ones with images from the film Frozen.
Emma said more people needed to set up shop in Ilkeston as more variety is needed.
Of course, as well as shops in Ilkeston, there is also the market. Held on Thursdays and Saturdays there is a huge range of bargains to be had. D and D Cosmestics for example has popular perfumes at prices way below those you would expect to pay in department stores. One Direction’s perfume has been flying off the stall. At just £10 a bottle, stall holder Phil Rose has sold 2,000 bottles in five weeks. They sell between 40 and 50 online.
He said in the 12 years he has been there, overall trade was down on previous years: “We are down 60 per cent on two years ago. One of the major reasonswas the closure of the Coop department store last year. People now have no reason to walk up. That had a massive impact, and so did Macdonalds moving from the Albion Centre.
Cassey Hall, who sells women’s clothes on the market, including well-known brands such as Asos, said: “Every year seems to get worse but it’s just what happens. You used to get mums coming and buy their kids something but a lot of it is done online now. We may have a rush closer to Christmas. Our clothes cost a lot less than in the shops.”