Happy Birthday to the Shed!
On the last weekend of May, thousands of locals celebrated this all-important first-year milestone at the Shed, Bordon.
In case you aren’t a local, The Shed was the first commercial building to open in the regenerating town centre of Whitehill and Bordon. By appearance more aircraft hangar than shed, this modern take on the shopping centre brings together an enticing combination of shopping, entertainment, and hospitality. The Shed is a great experiment in town centre regeneration, relying on trade generated by local independent businesses with no traditional anchor business to guarantee footfall.
So how did The Shed and its local traders fare in the first year?
INSERT If you are new to the idea of The Shed or the wider regeneration of Bordon and Whitehill you may wish to follow me on LinkedIn for the full story linkedin.com/emmaselby
As we saunter gaily into our second trading year all 14 units on the ground floor of the Shed are occupied although a couple are undergoing a change of hands.
Opening hours vary but generally, there is a great atmosphere and brisk trade from 12 midday onwards each day into the evening. Works begin in September 2021 to transform the unfinished Mezzanine space into self-contained offices, meeting rooms and an executive lounge under the management of SiGNAL.
The occupied ground floor units are largely given over to street food takeaways with a decent bar specialising in local craft beer, the Cube Theatre in partnership with the local Phoenix Theatre and a scattering of independent retailers. Although a local Headcase Barbers has been confirmed to open in late June, it does seem that the core emphasis will remain firmly on food, drink, and entertainment.
For the retail outlets, trade started off well but tailed off as a result of new Covid restrictions in the autumn. Christmas trade was dented; although not disastrously. Early 2022 was very slow in line with retail trade across the UK, as constant news of rising prices and energy bill hikes made the going a little tough still.
For the food and drink traders, the year has been consistently good especially for those able to offer home delivery food services. From a consumer perspective, there is an increasingly wide variety of food and drink available, with recent additions The Shack and Pizzeria Campana proving very popular.
Stuff’d has recently revamped its offering with welcome new partnerships including local pie creator Mud Pies and coffee and baked goods from Acorns Coffee and Cakes. . We hear that there is a Bubble Tea outlet opening in place of Fill Up and that Pizzeria Campana are opening a salad bar and Italian coffee outlet.
The community events are of consistently high quality and well attended and the atmosphere is lively, especially on the warmer days when the rollers are up and the sun streams in across the town park. The Cube Theatre events have been well chosen with a focus on local performers and interests, giving the Shed a really strong local community flavour and a unique atmosphere.
The outdoor markets are key to the success of the Shed and have been hugely helpful in delivering footfall and creating interest. Markets run on Wednesday and alternate Saturday mornings and are a great way to pick up fresh local produce and experience a wider range of local retail than you can find in the Shed. Attendance has not been high enough to sustain some of the stalls however, and while hopefully this will improve in time, the lesson to everyone is Bordon is very much ‘use it or lose it'.
So, the year hasn’t all been plain sailing, we had teething troubles of course and churn of traders and stalls has been relatively high. The weekly markets have struggled. The decision to charge for parking was controversial and, in my opinion, made far too early in the process, but lessons have been learned that will no doubt prove useful in the future.
In terms of permanent changes, its goodbye to the Mixing Jug and the Fill Up Shop at the end of the first year sadly, while the Studio Art Gallery is not so much closing as relocating at some point in the future. In its place Headcase Studio Barbers will provide a key service destination for the town.
The Shed offers a lot to local families in the way of entertainment and hospitality but perhaps even more importantly it is a great source of employment and opportunity. From the traders taking their first market stall or permanent bricks and mortar site, to those local school leavers taking their first jobs in the restaurants and bars, the Shed team and the employers at the Shed protect the best interests of all who work there, fostering a can-do enterprise culture and work ethic that will carry the town onwards and upwards through the next stage of development.
So we all celebrated the first birthday of the Shed with a general feeling of settled optimism for the future. The Shed’s party was a fabulous testament to the success of the first year, with record footfall, excellent trade for all and a great festival atmosphere. Congratulations to everyone involved for delivering a first-class event!
The Shed is an inspirational hub for local enterprise, providing a strong and characterful focus and identity for residents at the heart of the new town development. I would not be at all surprised if the model is not imitated up and down the country as communities seek new ways to congregate, eat and drink in key central spaces in their towns.
Planning has now been granted for the next phase of town centre construction including the Mess Hall and the High Street Shopping Parade, so we are looking forward to many more opportunities for local businesses to shape the future centre of Whitehill and Bordon. Do get in touch if you have a small business that you feel would bring something to the party!
Independent traders operating at the Shed from June 2022:
- The Crafty Shed
- Dylan’s Ice Cream
- 350 Burger
- Pizzeria Campana
- Hermanos Mexican Street Food
- Siam Oishi
- Oak Tree and Acorn
- Little Acorn Sweet Treats
- Cycle Sphere
- Tap @ The Shed
What has the first year of trading been like for those on the ground? I asked a few of the key people that have invested their own time and money into the project.
‘It is great to see the support that The Shed has in the area, and we are happy that most of the local businesses trading here have traded consistently well. We are looking forward to another busy year ahead.’ James Child - project lead at WBRC
‘Opening a takeaway unit in The Shed has been amazing - the other vendors, their staff and all our customers have been very supportive. We can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings! Here’s to growing alongside Bordon’ - Gareth Turner Investor and owner at Pizzeria Campania
‘It really has been a great first year for 4U2U Group at the Shed with the customers loving our food. It shows that the right offering is hugely popular with the local community. Our mantra is ‘always listen to your customers and give them what they want’ and it seems to work. - Stuart Morrison of 4U2U group (which owns 350 Burger, Shack, and Stuff’d)
‘Whenever we have taken a stall at the Shed Market we have been absolutely blown away by the love and support of the local people. The market has been key to our growth so far and is a very important part of our strategy to grow our business in the future’. Danielle and Jazmine, Rivenzo Interiors
‘Supporting lots of local breweries and bringing craft beer to Bordon this year has been wonderful. Our customers really enjoy the different beers and for us, being a part of the Shed family is fantastic. This year we will be giving back to the community by putting on loads of free music events for everyone to enjoy so watch this space! Ed Spice - owner, Tap @ The Shed
‘The Shed has been a game changer for our family. We are invested in multiple businesses here and we all socialize here too. When we first moved to Bordon everyone said we would move away when the kids became teenagers because there is nothing for that age group here. Now Bordon is the coolest town around! It has been the most amazing transformation.
Jemma Morrison - local mother of two teenagers, actress, barperson at the Tap @The Shed