The scheme, which has been launched to help support small and start-up businesses in the Chichester District, was launched in January 2020. Using shops owned by the council, the initiative offers affordable temporary premises for smaller enterprises. This gives local entrepreneurs the opportunity to trial business concepts and trade in a high street location without the commitment or cost of a longer-term lease.

This month, two premises on Crane Street, Chichester, will be the first to open for business as part of the scheme.

Co Co Baby will open its doors for the first time in March. "The Pop Up Shop scheme is a major opportunity for us and one that we didn't want to miss out on," says Rebecca Hilsdon, owner of Co Co Baby.

"So far, we have been trading successfully online, but our goal is to have a permanent shop in Chichester. At this early stage, the commitment of a long term shop lease wasn't a realistic option for us, which is why the Pop Up Shop Initiative has been so perfect for us. It means we can display our goods and services, and trial the advantages of having a shop base.

"We will be selling new and nearly new baby equipment, such as prams, pushchairs, and high chairs, as well as unique new baby clothes and accessories that customers won't be able to find anywhere else in the local area. Excitingly, any item purchased in our store can be completely transformed and personalised with names or designs exclusive to the customer."

Also joining the scheme this month is the Apuldram Centre, who will be using a second premises in Crane Street to sell artwork and handmade crafts created by adults with learning disabilities.

Rachel Aslet-Clark from The Apuldram Centre, says: "This scheme will give us a base in the centre of the city to promote the talents and abilities of the local people we support. It will also provide work experience opportunities in a real retail setting, as our pop up shop will also feature a small studio area where our artists can work and engage with shoppers and browsers."

The third business to trade as part of the Pop Up Shop Initiative, is Greenie's Clothes Store, run by University of Chichester student, Jennifer Wheeley: "For the past three years, I have been running a successful online clothing business. I have recently started hosting clothing events, selling clothes by weight, and this has been very popular with students, so I am excited to share it with more people.

"I am now looking at ways to expand my business and feel that a shop would be an excellent opportunity. The Pop Up Shop Initiative is a great chance to experiment with the idea of stores and clothing events without the cost of a long- term commitment. I will be able to learn about the sustainable and vintage clothing industry in much more detail, and can use this knowledge to expand my business."

Greenie's Clothes Store will start trading in Crane Street, Chichester, in April.

Councillor Martyn Bell, Cabinet Member for Growth, Place, and Regeneration at Chichester District Council, says: "We're very pleased to be welcoming our first businesses to join us in this new venture.

"As a council, we are committed to supporting our High Streets and local businesses, and to do this, we need to consider a variety of things, including changing customer needs and expectations as well as the barriers that smaller businesses face when trying to find affordable retail space in a prime location. Pop up shops are becoming a very popular and effective way of meeting these needs.

"What's important to remember is that as a council we don't control business rates; own all of the shops; or decide which businesses come into Chichester. However, we are looking at other ways we can support the High Street.

"This new initiative is just one of many ways in which the council has been proactively supporting local businesses and the High Street through a variety of schemes, grants and projects. These include: a business support contact scheme, enabling grants scheme, retail mentoring and shop front grants scheme, the development of an events strategy, improvements to our parks and gardens, improvements to the city centre public conveniences, and the introduction of MiPermit parking to make it easier for people to stay longer in the city.

"We are very lucky in that we already have an incredible array of shops and businesses, and we hope that our new Pop Up Shop Initiative will give new businesses the opportunity and confidence to get their ideas off the ground."

Pop up shops offer a range of benefits, and the council's scheme aims to:

  • provide affordable retail space for independent and start-up businesses;

  • draw in new customers and trade;

  • enhance the appearance of retail areas;

  • help meet the aims of the Chichester Vision by improving choice and offering more opportunities for independent shops; and,

  • establish a scheme, which could be shared with private landlords and encourage them to make the most of empty shops in a similar way.

People can find out more about the council's Pop Up Shop Initiative and the work of its Economic Development Team on their webpage.