11:53AM, Monday 12 April 2021
The High Street in Maidenhead is starting to look a little healthier as new independent shops continue to appear in the town.
Since lockdown first began more than a year ago, national chains like John Lewis, Top Shop and Debenhams have been dragged into financial trouble and forced to shut down stores.
However, in towns like Maidenhead, the gaps these big chains have left are starting to be filled by new, independent businesses which are often run by people from the area.
As non-essential shops also get the green light to reopen from today (Monday), a sense of optimism is starting to rise once again in Maidenhead as the High Street begins to recover.
Steph James, Royal Borough service lead for economic growth, and former Maidenhead town manager, said: “It’s been quite high in the headlines that national chains are closing their stores, but in Maidenhead we are seeing a lot of people starting up their own businesses in the town.
“A lot of people want to support local businesses and hopefully that’s something we’ll see more of.”
In the past few weeks and months, a number of new and exciting ventures have opened up in Maidenhead’s shopping district.
New bakery Les Marrons, in the Nicholsons Centre
Last month, a new bakery opened in the Nicholsons Centre offering a range of products including gluten free and vegan goods.
Founder Ece Senyurek came to the UK from Turkey in 2018, and after spending some time baking at home, she decided to take the plunge and open up her own place.
Wesley and Francesca Smalley are opening Seasonality in Queen Street.
Despite the problems that lockdown has been causing business, for some it has presented an opportunity to try something new.
After professional chef Wesley Smalley lost his job because of the pandemic, he and his wife Francesca teamed up to realised one of his long-held dreams – opening their own shop.
Coming soon in Queen Street, Seasonality will be selling restaurant-quality ingredients for adventurous home cooks, as well as ready-made meal boxes.
Yao Wallux Wallington has opened a Thai supermarket in Maidenhead.
Fans of Asian cuisine, meanwhile, will have been enjoying the wares at Yao Thai Supermarket, a Thai and Asian Food supermarket which opened in King Street a few months ago, just before the most recent lockdown began.
Despite opening during a tough time, owner Yao Wallux Wallington revealed customers were delighted with the new offering in the town, especially after a Thai supermarket in Maidenhead shut down a few years ago.
She said: “It’s been kind of on and off, some days it is busy and some days it’s not because of lockdown.
“The customers coming are really happy. They are happy to get Thai ingredients after we lost the old shop many years ago.”
Maidenhead and Slough travellers have long been waiting for the arrival of Crossrail to whisk them quickly into central London.