SHOPKEEPERS in Gosport are leading the fight against the recession.
While most high streets are facing a steady decline, new shops are springing up in the town with every passing month.
In a few weeks, Gosport artist Richard Oakes will be opening an art shop and gallery in North Cross Street.
He will join the ranks of tattooists, bakers, confectioners and a butcher as the latest addition to the town’s shopping precinct.
Traders say taking the plunge at a time of recession is worth the risk and will help boost Gosport’s visitor numbers.
Mr Oakes said: ‘Unfortunately the High Street is suffering quite a lot at the moment.
‘Opening a new shop is a risk but I think it is worth doing.
‘I’m a local artist and I do a lot of arts and crafts.
‘I got to know a lot of people who are doing some really nice and interesting things that you can’t get from major chains.
‘So I thought it would be good to have a shop for that sort of stuff and then this property came along.’
The Art Space opens on March 3 and will also be a place for people to take part in workshops ranging from drawing to guitar lessons.
Eventually Richard would like to sell tea and cakes too.
Other shops to have opened in Gosport’s High Street recently include a bakery, a butcher’s shop, a tattoo studio, a sweet shop and a reptile shop.
It comes as town leaders are preparing a bid for Gosport to become a Mary Portas pilot town, following the TV retail expert’s advice to the government on how to boost dying town centres.
As reported in The News, Gosport now has a lower than average number of empty shop units.
The deputy leader of Gosport Borough Council, Cllr Graham Burgess, said: ‘I’m all in favour of independent shops and I wish them all the success in the world.
‘It just shows quite a lot of people have the confidence that things are changing.
‘They’re not the big chains, but independent traders who are showing they have the confidence in Gosport.
‘The customers are there and they have the belief in the town.’