Taunton - Easter shopping in the county town

PUBLISHED: 15:08 13 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:07 05 April 2013



With its mix of national high street names and quality independent businesses, the county town of Taunton offers a unique shopping experience, writes Sarah Ford

Shopping in the county town

With its mix of national high street names and quality independent businesses, the county town of Taunton offers a unique shopping experiencewrites Sarah Ford

The main retail area of Taunton is one of the key parts of the town scheduled for redevelopment in a major regeneration scheme.

And as the Project Taunton team work behind the scenes on the early stages of these plans to increase shopping and leisure opportunities in the town centre, business people are looking to the future.

They include Melloney Thorne of Country Knole Interiors who would like to see more opportunities to showcase Somersets arts and crafts.

I would like to see re-generation to make Taunton feel much more like the Country County Town it is by creating more areas such as The Riverside and quaint areas such as Bath Place, she says.

Take inspiration from towns such as Windsor, Winchester, Bath who have skillfully combined their history with the modern day requirements of the shopper, by keeping the charming old buildings so that it does not feel like every other high street in Britain!

Bathroom Village has had a presence in Taunton for a number of years and has branches throughout the South West; the Taunton showroom is the head office. Managing Director Steve Hawkins hopes regeneration can be speeded up for the benefit of businesses and the local economy.

Taunton shopping is very varied and very cultural, he adds.

For instance, I love the selection of shops found in the backstreets of Taunton and they are all small independent retailers. Products like Shakespeare glass and Plasterworks are all worth a look.

Louise Brown, Manager of Buff Urban Day Spa agrees that the idea of regeneration is great but things need to start happening sooner rather than later.

The regeneration will be good for Taunton as I believe it will encourage more visitors in to the town creating a buzz and a better shopping environment. This in return will bring more money in to the town and help drive businesses forward. The idea of more shops, riverside apartments and making use of the river we have is very exciting and will make Taunton a place where people will want to frequent and spend all day.

Some businesses have been part of Tauntons landscape for many years and Hatchers on the High Street is one of the oldest department stores in the world. It was established as a drapery in 1775 and over the course of the next few decades the business was expanded. Hatcher & Sons became a Limited Company in 1898.

It was only in the 1980s that the Hatcher family ended their 200-year control of the store and now it continues to be independent and family run, and employs 90 people.

Mark Raisey the Merchandise Director, describes Taunton as great place to shop.

It is clean, tidy and easy to navigate with easy access form a number of town centre car parks and a reliable park & ride service. It may lack a few of the big name stores that you might find in larger towns and cities, but we have a fantastic selection of everyday shops, a really interesting collection of locally based shops, cafes and restaurants and all conveniently based in a compact town centre that doesnt sprawl for miles.

Stephanie Harris and Sylvia Merton opened Roots Caf three years ago in North Street, which they describe as an artisan part of town.

They offer fresh quality homemade food, drinks and cakes that showcase Somerset and West Country produce.

They specialise in all diets from Omnivore, vegetarian and vegan also 99% of their menu is available gluten free.

We started with quite a conservative menu but over the months and years we have found that Taunton is lacking in vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free choice yet has a massive demand for it, says Stephanie.

In a former apple store just outside the town centre in Staplegrove is an Aladdins Cave of furniture showrooms called Village World.

It is run by Mandy Richards who urges the people of Taunton to use their shops or lose them.

To help regenerate Taunton I think people should think more about supporting independent traders in the town (we have a lot) rather than shopping on the net. This would help a lot to regenerate our town. People think about this a lot more as we see our high street shops close.

For details on the regeneration of Taunton visit www.projecttaunton.co.uk

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