Gloucester Road businesses can only ‘stand out’ through a strong sense of community
Gloucester Road is a must visit for anyone coming to or living in Bristol. Full of quirky shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs, this 1.7 mile stretch of road attracts hundreds of people every day and is home to some of Bristol’s best local businesses.
From works of art created by some of the city’s most talented designers, to plant shops and florists offering to involve community members in creating something of their own, and even stores that allow people to embrace their individual hobbies, it’s no wonder the people who work here feel like they’re all connected.
They also say the shops along Gloucester Road can just ‘be themselves’ and each certainly has its own personality – which is much needed when you’re neck and neck with potential rivals. For example, there are now around five flower and plant shops along a single stretch of Gloucester Road, making it even more important that each one is unique.
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The owner of Fancy Plants on Gloucester Road – one of two company locations (the other being next to the BRI) – Sharon Benton, told Bristol Live: “When I moved here for the first Once about 30 years ago I lived just off Gloucester Road It was my weekend haunt and the place where we did all our shopping and socializing and I got to know it very well.
“So when I was looking to open my shop – I searched for years for the perfect location and wanted it to be just a bit further up Gloucester Road – it was just like the natural location. There has a really nice community vibe and it’s now really pushing further into Bishopston too.
“As for the other plant and flower shops along Gloucester Road, we are all very respectful of each other and not really located too close to each other. Bristol is definitely a hotspot for plant stores and those who move there, whether students or whoever, love to create beautiful spaces in their homes and love houseplants.
“I think the problem with us is that we specialize in indoor plants and nothing else and we spend six months training our staff to be as knowledgeable as possible, which means that we get competitive prices.”
Asked what Sharon would like to see along a future Gloucester route, she told Bristol Live: ‘There are some really nice cafes, restaurants and bakeries there, but I think there really needs more gourmet shops, like a delicatessen – somewhere you can go on a weekend when you want to buy a really good piece of cheese or something.
“I also think it would be really nice to have more gifting places. You know, a place where people can go and browse for a while. It’s definitely a place where people can spend a day exploring and to go.”
“We are the complete opposite of The Mall”
Further down the road, you’ll find an incredibly individual location, adorned with an exterior sign depicting an alien and a window full of dice, figurines, and a hoard of geeky treasures.
Ian has run the Area 51 store on Gloucester Road since 2005, after taking over the premises after bankruptcy. He told Bristol Live that business has definitely changed a lot since then and added: ‘Gloucester Road has a good community and we attract regular customers. Also the rent here isn’t ridiculous – I would say it’s is about 5/10% of the price of a place in the city center.
“There is also a lot of variety when it comes to shops here. But I would say there are maybe a bit too many fruit and vegetable shops. We could do with a real sandwich shop, where the sandwiches don’t But then again, maybe the sandwiches aren’t hipster enough for Gloucester Road!
“He also needs a cheap clothing store. After Peacocks closes, I have to buy my underwear online. I just can’t afford to go to town just for pants!”
Ian, with his team which includes Michael and Zed, told us that during the pandemic they were offering home deliveries and also said that they had a wide variety of customers – ranging from school children dropping by after school with their parents, collectors and enthusiasts looking for the latest Warhammer comic, trading card or miniature.
Ian said: “Our bestsellers change from week to week and we like to think our store is quite an organized chaos. It’s the complete opposite of a place like The Mall (in Cribbs Causeway) where everything is ‘sterilized’ “and there are only about six items on the shop floor.
“We offer everything from 50p miniatures that kids can practice painting on, to the classic Pokemon card – which has gotten a lot cooler from last year – and even £300 Warhammer miniatures for the older ones. great enthusiasts.”
“More people need to know”
Further down the road you’ll find yet another place that’s part gallery and store, showcasing artwork from local designers from Bristol and as far afield as Tobago.
We spoke to Maeve, who has been working in the Room 212 boutique for just a year and got the job after simply helping owner Sarah.
She told us that the works presented in the shop were then sold elsewhere. They even had artwork from someone on “The Great Pottery Showdown” TV show. She added: “In the shop we have works by local artists and Sarah (the owner) helps connect the local art community. From time to time she will find something on her travels, like pieces that she discovered after a trip to Tobago.
“Some of the artists featured here in the shop are now world famous. People like Hannah Turner who creates ceramic pieces – her work was first sold here and now you may find it elsewhere too.
“We get a real range of customers – both locals and visitors. But what’s really special about this place is that it acts as a connection to the artists.
“I am an artist myself and working here has really helped to motivate and inspire me. There is a really good sense of community along Gloucester Road and I think the biggest change I I’d like to see is more of a generalized knowledge of the community here.
“More people need to know. Because it’s definitely something special.”
Other shops and businesses along Gloucester Road echoed the sense that it was a ‘community’ and that each ‘community member’ or business was not just located on the road to sell a product, but also to enrich the lives of people within that same community.
Whether it’s helping deliver freshly baked bread or other essentials to people during a crisis, or offering to teach skills such as wreath making or hand-crafting bouquets to people looking for something new to learn, each business prides itself on its place on Gloucester Road – one of Bristol’s closest communities.
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