Making Sturminster great (again?)

A collective effort

The Town’s retailers, charity shops, and Sturbiz are working hard trying to make sure that Sturminster recovers from the worse effects of COVID in an economically vibrant  and community minded way. There are a number of initiatives underway and whisper it but they seem to be having an effect.

The boutique – a case study

You may have noticed that the Boutique a shop selling pre-loved clothes for our local charity “Shop for Stur” has taken to dressing its window in a new theme every week or so. The window has attracted incredible local interest and we hear has even resulted in people coming especially to Town to see the new display.

The charity has an experienced team led by Jackie Monckton who have taken it on themselves to make this happen. Each week Jackie decides on a new theme. She then scours the donations for support material and indeed most of the displays are for sale. Once she has gathered the goods she needs, she then asks the volunteers to help her close the gaps. Most of these items are not for sale although Jackie does record that on a couple of occasions over enthusiastic volunteers have mistakenly sold goods loaned by their colleagues! There is no record of what happened after that either to the goods or the volunteer.

So far themes have included ‘Back to School’ ‘Halloween’ ‘Children’s Corner’ ‘Writing’ ‘Autumn Rains’ and fittingly Sturminster’s attractions’.Jackie decides on these mainly according to current news and seasonal events and sheer inspiration. She says “They have proved a great success, often we complete a new window and before we have time shoppers are in and buying items. I have had to make sure we save lots of back up materials”  Cheryl the Manageress is certain the window dressing has become a great attraction at the store and is definitely responsible for an uptick in footfall and turnover. “For me it’s really important the shop plays it’s part in bringing people back into town and benefitting not just us but all the other shops in Sturminster”. The good news is that the charity’s research seems to bear this out.

The role of Sturbiz

As important in making sure Sturminster secures its future is the recent appointment Jacqui Wragg by Sturbiz as part time events and town manager solely dedicated to making Stur great again – to pinch a phrase made popular by my favourite politician. Jacqui is working wi5 the various community groups and often under her own steam to organise markets and events that attract people back into the centre. A visit to the town web site will quickly show the current list of activities she has currently under her stewardship.

Signs of success

Anecdotal research points to some success in bringing good numbers back to the centre. “We have seen quite a revival in Sturminster, the White Hart is thriving, Sweet Pea is a great attraction at the far end of town, people love using the new communal space to take a coffee specially delivered by Joshua’s staff. Oxfords has taken a prime position on the main shopping area, a key step in delivering a great shopping experience.” Says Mike Woods the chair of the SNEDSL charity (Owners of the Emporium and Boutique)