Essential businesses have been open in Bedford throughout the lockdown, while others have been cleverly delivering and serving the public online.
These have been promoted to 1,000s throughout via the Love Bedford social media platforms, which are run by the BedfordBID team.
From June 15th MORE were allowed to open, and again Love Bedford has been in the forefront of spreading the good news with a front page article in the print edition of Beds Bulletin and Kempston Calling.
Debenhams reopening in Bedford (but not in Milton Keynes) was the big news of the day. A queue formed early on Monday morning with people eager to make purchases.
Similar social-distanced lines formed at Primark and New Look fashion stores farther along the Silver Street/Midland Road trail.
Eagle Travel in Goldington Road reopened its offices, by appointment only, for clients keen to book holidays but with the reassurance of professionals helping them along the way.
Eagle Travel arranges quality trips for discerning clients and was praised for helping travellers get back to the UK when the lockdown took effect.
The Arc, formerly the Art Centre and Gallery cafe was relaunched. The combined location is run by brother and sister Gemma and Simon, whose Dad Don Gillett was a familiar face at the Howard Street setting for years.
The centre opened on Monday 15th June, under the new brand of The Arc and will bring a new flair, modern displays and products to the store.
Gemma comes from a creative and media background in London but has moved back to Bedford with her husband and two children.
“She is hugely excited about the new challenge and is in the process of rebranding and redesigning the interior,” said Don who will continue to work within his other business interests.
Gemma’s brother Simon is already under the same roof running The Gallery cafe incorporating the Companions bakery.
Previously a French bakery, that part of building has a state-of-the-art bakery and very popular coffee shop setting – enabling people to stop and have a coffee, light lunch and spot of art and gift shopping.
The corner of Howard Street is a busy thoroughfare with people visiting Lidls in adjoining Lurke Street.
A favourite port of call is Frescoes. The fresco on the wall once made international news with its recreation of a Michelangelo’s work at the Sistine Chapel.
Said owner Kevin, who has been a champion of independent businesses in Bedford for more than a decade: “These are extraordinary times. Businesses in Bedford have proven themselves to be resilient in the past and capable of embracing new ideas.
“Our town was one of the first 12 in the UK to have a Business Improvement District, which has championed commerce for consumers since 2005.
“Now we face the greatest challenge of all to our town centre and well really must work together to encourage customers to come back.
“We have a lot of advantages: a beautiful riverside, attractive buildings, plenty of town centre parking and many independent businesses who have a vested interest in bringing the town back to life.”
Frescoes will be opening for takeaways from June 25th 10 am – 3pm and for sit downs from July 7th.