If your local high street is anything like mine, there are probably a lot more empty shops around than there used to be! In my local town centre (Maidenhead) it's been great to see a couple of local groups getting together to make use of these spaces, and breathe a bit of creative life back into the town.
Art on the Street (who run a popular art market held on the high street) have been displaying local artists' work in empty shop windows, and ran a pop up gallery/shop in one of the empty shops this summer. Local craft collective The Craft Coop have also been holding events and running pop up shops, and they're back this autumn with not one but two shops full of lovely handmade things.
I've unfortunately been too busy to really get involved with The Craft Coop this year, but I'm hoping to take part next year and it's really wonderful to see a group of crafters getting together to sell their work and create something this fab. Doesn't the main shop look awesome?
This is the sad, empty space it was before (formerly a bookshop).
The shop is full of all kinds of handmade wares, plus a cafe selling tea and coffee and homemade cake. There are also going to be a series of workshops (click here for details) and there's a weekly "craft and natter" session each Thursday morning, from 10am.
Local crafters are renting space in the shop by the week, so while some of the crafts will be available for the whole run others will only be available for a week or two so the stock will change a bit each week to hopefully encourage lots of return visits. You can read about some of the crafters selling their wares here.
The Craft Coop have also taken over an empty jewellery shop and filled it with handmade jewellery! They say, "we were so sad to see small independent business Cathy Stephens Jewellery close, and so we are determined to bring a little bling back to the shop, just in time for Christmas. We are delighted to offer an entire shop full of unique handcrafted jewellery, including semiprecious gems, gorgeous lampwork, Italian millefiore, and silverwork"
If you're in the area, do come along to support the shops! They're open until 30th December, Wed. - Saturday 10am- 5pm, Sunday 11am- 5pm. And if you live nowhere near me, do take the time to find out if something like this is happening in your local area and support it if you can :)
(P.S. thanks to Deborah for the great photos!)