VOTE: Hopes are high for Midhurst’s West Street

Annie Whittaker in Seventh Heaven with Buddy
Annie Whittaker in Seventh Heaven with Buddy

TWO new shops in Midhurst’s West Street have opened their doors and hopes are high for the road‘s retail future.

Seventh Heaven and the Sports and Fitness store welcomed shoppers for the first time on Monday, October 8, and both owners were hopeful for the future.

Owner of Seventh Heaven Annie Whittaker said she’s been planning on opening the store since April.

“There’s nowhere in the area like this,” she said.

“Midhurst is growing and we are proving that with four shops opening. I think it’s been brilliant.

“The response from people has been lovely. They can feel the nice atmosphere.”

Meanwhile Gareth Underhill, the new owner of the fitness store, added: “We’ve had lots of people coming in.

“Car parking is a bit of an issue but it’s not terrible.

“We’re very community oriented. We have a sports notice board which we want to be there for the public and they can use for free.”

The shop sell specialist sports items, including specially-designed running shoes. Gareth has also worked extensively as a fitness trainer at the Grange. He is upbeat about the area’s future and the Grange’s transformation.

“I’m positive, I think it will be a good thing,” he said.

“Traders need to be quite pro-active and find things to do.”

With an additional two shops to open in Sussex House in the near future, and restoration work expected to take place on the Market Square, traders are hopeful the boom could encourage more shoppers to venture up from North Street.

There have been a number of empty units in the street. Until June, one of these empty spaces was the site of former greengrocer’s Top Crop, which closed on Christmas Eve after 60 years.

In June, a new pet store, Farringdons, opened there – an extension of the Petersfield-based business.

Abbie McIntyre, who works in Farringdon’s, has spoken positively of progress so far.

“Most of our trade has been word of mouth, and every week is busier,” she said.

“It’s picking up and we’re getting local customers and they’re telling other people about us.”

Abbie’s mum, Lorraine Carter, and stepdad, Adrian, bought the Petersfield business two years ago, and felt the site in West Street offered a good opportunity to expand.

With a number of empty shops still in West Street, there is undoubtedly room to improve, but with five new shops opening within a few months of each other, hopes for the street’s long-term future remain high.

To read what other traders think, see today’s Observer (Thursday, October 18).

What do you think?

Do you think Midhurst is thriving as a market town? Cast your vote in the poll to the right of the screen and leave your comments below.