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Emergence of homegrown entrepreneurship praised in Brentwood

PUBLISHED: 08:30 19 January 2015 | UPDATED: 08:30 19 January 2015

Crown Street, Brentwood - image taken from Google Street View

Crown Street, Brentwood - image taken from Google Street View

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The benefits of shopping locally have been emphasised amid an emergence of homegrown entrepreneurship in Brentwood town centre.

“Put money into your local economy and everybody benefits,” said Lin Heath, owner of Brentwood homeware store French Quarter. “Not just the shops or the business people, but the homeowners. If you’ve got a healthy high street people will want to come and live in that town, so your house price will, at least maintain, or go up in price.”

Mike Hawkins, chief executive of Brentwood Chamber of Commerce, added: “Everybody wants their town centre to be a nice hub of activity. You’re never going to get that if people don’t support their shops.”

Mr Hawkins said that Brentwood is witnessing an emergence of homegrown entrepreneurship.

He added: “There are lot of one-man one-woman businesses. There’s an air of respectable optimism”.

There are plenty of reasons to visit Brentwood, such as Crown Street which boasts boutiques unique to the town. “Crown Street is full of lovely independent shops,” said Lin who opened her store in the road 10 years ago.

“When I opened the shop my purpose was to showcase local people who make things. I have 15 locals making things for me: candles, beautiful pictures, a carpenter who does beautifully designed work. There’s a real eclectic mix of talents.”

Employee of Crown Street specialist home cinema and hi-fi store Audio T emphasised the personal service independent stores can provide. He said: “We get to know our customers better than online or bigger stores.”

Taking the time to shop in local retailers is also a great way to meet people. Lin, who regularly organises community events, said: “We consistently try and get the community together because that’s something we’re losing by buying on the Internet.”

After spending 6 years trying to get Crown Street pedestrianised, a road previously open to traffic making it dangerous for shoppers, Lin has utilised the cobbled backstreet to re-ignite a sense of community spirit. “We’ve done things like coffee mornings for Macmillan, we’ve even done a scissorhands competition where we trained counsellors to cut hair in a competition at the Sugar Hut.” Lin equally works towards giving local producers a platform. She said: “I try and organise events with stall holders selling local produce and local crafters. We’re in the process of getting an on-going market organised.”

All you could ever desire is potentially right on your doorstep. So rather than feeding thriving chain stores with our pennies, let’s reap the unique diversity our own communities have to offer first.


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