Art shop expanding - but owner knocks banks for lack of support
By susanhubbard | Wednesday, September 29, 2010, 14:55
Bridge House Arts on the corner of Belmont Road by the railway bridge is expanding next month.
Lucy's Sandwich Bar in Oxford Street, bought by Bridge House Arts
Staying put - Bridge House Arts' current shop on the corner of Belmont Road.
Keith Robinson and Lynda Fairbairn have been selling artists' materials and giving drawing and painting classes in their tiny shop since July last year. Now they are taking over the empty Lucy's Sandwich Shop nearby in Oxford Street as additional premises.
But Keith stresses that he and his partner are taking personal risks in growing their business. "Like other independent retailers in Whitstable, we feel we get no support from anyone - the banks don't help," he said.
"People come to Whitstable because of the independent shops here but we are taking all the risks." Whitstable recently came out top in a national survey of towns, judging them on the number of independent businesses.
Bridge House Arts' new premises will be used for retail, and Keith and Lynda plan to sell stationery as well as art materials. There will be alterations made to the other shop to allow more room for classes and some exhibition space.
"We opened because we saw a gap in the market," said Keith. "There are a lot of artists in Whitstable but there was nowhere to get good materials without going to Canterbury. And our classes are going well."
The new shop will be close to other art premises, such as Whitstable Framing and the Fish Slab gallery and Keith hopes that more people will be enticed up to that end of the town centre away from the harbour.