Hawkhurst businesses told to 'go continental' in bid to boost trade
BUSINESSES have been urged to "go continental" with their opening hours as part of a campaign to put Hawkhurst on the map.
Opening earlier and staying open later could boost trade, Hawkhurst Parish Council chairman Keith Brown said last week as he launched a major campaign to promote local businesses, amid fears the village is struggling.
Mr Brown said he had become increasingly worried about the future of Hawkhurst and has asked business owners to come forward with their ideas.
He said: "A shop has put in their window that if everyone passing by spends just 50 pence in their shop, they won't go under, and I thought that was a great point to make. People want to stay in business and I'm appealing to them to get in touch.
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"Perhaps they should be operating continental opening hours, where they are open early in the morning and again later after 5pm, so people can make the most of them."
Mr Brown also hopes to create a market on The Moor and establish a working party with business owners.
"We want to stimulate this community and help businesses to provide employment opportunities for our young families," he said.
Linda and David Marshall have run the Spar store on The Moor for 26 years. They say it is a hard time for village businesses.
Mrs Marshall said: "This is the worst it has ever been. I've had to reduce stock and staff and I'm not the only trader affected.
"We've had to put up signs in the windows saying we are not closing, as about three weeks ago rumour got around that we were.
"We want the support of local people. Something needs to be done."
Mr Brown said 4,000 people had flocked to Hawkhurst for last weekend's Jubilee celebrations and the farmers' market set up on The Moor for the occasion had been very popular.
"We have this lovely piece of ground which we can use up to 29 times a year," he said. "It could easily welcome farmers' markets and French markets."
Mr Brown's comments come after the chairman of Cranbrook's parish council, Francis Rook, revealed his idea of bussing in tourists from nearby Sissinghurst Castle to boost trade.
And at the Lamberhurst and Goudhurst business forum organised by Tunbridge Wells borough councillor Edmund Hastie, traders said they would consider taking on apprentices if they were offered reduced business rates.