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It’s no longer news that the high street is struggling. There are more businesses going under each day. Not necessarily with the publicity given to Jessops and HMV but every bit as disastrous for the owners and employees.

And for anyone selling clothes there has been the double whammy of poor weather over the last year or so. How many of you bought many new summer clothes last summer? I have been told by other local independent traders that last summer was by far the worst they have known in over 20 years. And you can see that from the fact that everything is permanently being discounted – summer sale segues to mid season sales into pre-Christmas sale and the new years sales are continuing still!!

The situation in Chelmsford really wasn’t helped by the arrival of Primark. We were already well served with similar shops – Mark One, Deichmanns etc – which are situated in the same shopping centre as Primark. But Primark is much bigger. So people shop there and the surrounding stores are dying. Just like the High Street. Have you seen the pop-ups with market stall merchandise? And they are taking custom from the market which is also struggling.

But what of the true independents? These are mainly clustered around Baddow Road/the cinema or Moulsham Street. Well they are struggling too. TrulyMadlyVintage has gone. Leyla’s Boutique has gone. Memory Lane has gone. All offered something unique and all are missed. And with the demise of TMV we also lost our regular vintage fairs. So making Chelmsford all about homogenised high street offerings.

True, Now and Then has been going for over a year now and what we offer is different. But people go to an area which offers a selection. And one shop isn’t a selection. I love my shop. I love our stock and I truly feel blessed with the staff I have managed to find. But we are lonely. We want to be part of a thriving community.

Chelmsford has some lovely independent cafes – The Lemon Tree Cafe, Acanteen, CDs and Recess for starters. But what about clothes shops??? So this is a heartfelt plea to anyone who has been contemplating giving it go – Do it!!! Come on. Add some vibrancy to Chelmsford. It’s so sad when people feel they have to go to London to shop for something different…..