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Issue 338 – Mary Portas visits Frome’s ‘great independent shops’

TV’s Mary Portas, ‘Queen of Shops’, made a surprise visit to Frome last Thursday to take a look at the town’s thriving independent businesses.

The retail guru has been tasked by the government to help reverse the fortunes of the UK’s high streets, a brief that includes the prevention of “clone towns” dominated by familiar names and boost the number of small, independent retailers in town centres.
In June, Frome Times’ front page stated “Frome – a shining example for Government high street project?” The article reported that local traders and groups thought that Mary Portas should visit Frome to see for herself the success of its wide range of independent shops. Since then, traders and local people have contacted Mary Portas themselves, many through a social media site, asking her to visit Frome.
Truly Sopel, who has a business on Catherine Hill, was one of the traders we wrote to Mary Portas, inviting her to take a look at Frome. Truly said, “Mary had a good look around the store, she said it looked great and asked about the label. Molly from Molly’s Mittens was in store at the time and Mary commented on a pair of purple mitts, saying they were very ‘in’ at the moment.
“It’s a huge compliment to have the Queen of Shops say how lovely your shop is, she was very pleasant.”
Mary Portas also called into the Stardust Cafe on Stony Street. Paula Thomas one of the partners of the café, said she asked Mary Portas, “How do you think we could improve?” Mary replied, “Oh, I don’t think you need me, it’s great as it is.”
Assembly on Catherine Hill was also treated to a visit from the ‘Queen of Shops.’
Anthony Hick from the store said, “We sent her a message via a social media site to come and visit Frome. When she walked in we were stunned, but it’s amazing.
“Mary said how lovely the shop was laid out and that it was stunning inside. A compliment from her is a real treat.”
It is understood that Mary stayed at nearby Babbington Hotel during her visit.
On the morning of her visit, Mary tweeted, “In Frome looking at their great independent shops. Perfect morning for it.”