The Shopping Arcade at Stamford Corn Exchange is set to open on Sundays in the run-up to Christmas to give shoppers an extra chance to pick up unique festive gifts.
Since opening in June, the arcade on the ground floor of the theatre in Broad Street, has been home to a variety of small independent businesses.
From this Sunday (October 29) until Christmas Eve, the arcade will be open every Sunday from 10am to 4pm to give shoppers an extra chance to pick up gifts that can’t be found anywhere else.
The arcade features nine small retail units, all set around central tables for the Stage 2 Coffee Shop.
But many of the business owners feel that the arcade could benefit from a younger clientele and believe that despite its central location, people still don’t know about it.
Joyce Hobson runs Stamford Kidz Stuff, which sells clothing and toys for young children.
She said: “The Shopping Arcade is unique to Stamford and I don’t think people realise how much they could buy here - you could literally do all your Christmas shopping because of the range of items on sale.
“We really hope people support us in the run-up to Christmas because our aim is to serve the local community.
“We’re supported well by local businesses but I think a lot of people don’t know we are here.”
As well as Stamford Kidz Stuff and the Coffee Shop, the other retail units are: Sukies Party Emporium, Jazzy Jewellery and More, Sweet Pea Gifts and Clothing, Corn Exchange Charity Shop, Up Town Vinyl Records, Stamford Sewing Shop and Revealed, which sells leather goods.
There are also a range of display cabinets featuring even more products from independent retailers which can be bought from the central till, often manned by arcade supervisor Jess Bradshaw.
Jess said: “We get a lot of older people come in, especially to use the cafe but I don’t think the arcade is very well used by younger people which is a shame.”
Linda Mills, who runs Stamford Sewing Shop, agrees that the arcade isn’t very well known in the town.
She says though that retailers in the arcade will always go the extra mile to help customers and each other.
“There’s a good atmosphere here,” Linda said. “We’re doing the Sundays on a rota basis so we can all help each other.
“We just need the people of Stamford to support us.”
As well as selling haberdashery items, Linda also runs craft sessions every Thursday morning from 10.30am to 12.30pm, which are open to everyone.
Linda is also selling hand-knitted poppies priced at £2 to raise funds for the Poppy Appeal and in the run-up to Christmas, she will be selling gift boxes.
Even Mark Peacock, who runs Stage 2 Coffee Shop, will be offering festive treats like mince pies in a bid to get into the Christmas spirit.
All the retailers at the Shopping Arcade raise funds to support the running of the arcade through raffles and tombolas.
In a bid to improve footfall, staff at The Shopping Arcade are running a competition to win £50 to be spent at the retailers inside. All the retailers have contributed towards the prize.
To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is visit the Shopping Arcade and fill in a voucher with your details.
The winner will be drawn during Stamford’s Christmas Market, which runs on Sunday, November 26.
n The Shopping Arcade is open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 5pm, and on Sundays from 10am to 4pm until Sunday, December 24.