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Letter: Ben is Right, Guildford Needs to Offer Something Different

Published on: 25 May, 2019
Updated on: 25 May, 2019

Ben Darnton (left) being interviewed by The Dragon’s Hugh Coakley

From A Atkinson

In response to: Dragon Interview: Ben Darnton of Ben’s Records

I know Ben from many visits to his shop and this is a great interview.

I agree with what he says. Let Kingston, Aldershot and Woking fight over the scraps of the dated and failed shopping “sprawl” model of the 90s and naughties. Guildford has the unique opportunity to offer something different and engaging.

Competing is not about having the same – if we don’t have shop X, Y or Z, customers will go elsewhere, fine. It is about solving the shoppers’ problems, then they will come and spend. The problem is not solved by more space in the town devoted to shops; it will be solved by having a uniquely compelling offering.

People used to go shopping for part of their weekend leisure, things have changed. As I have said before, use our unique 5G development at the University of Surrey, use other tech companies to make Guildford a shopping experience of the 2030s, not the 1990s. What about a Guildford Science “Museum”, and punts on the Wey?

Shops like Ben’s should pay zero rates and soulless, identikit shops found on any high street should pay more. If Guildford is great, they will pay up as the current retail shake-up will sort the wheat from the chaff.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: Ben is Right, Guildford Needs to Offer Something Different

  1. Norah Morden Reply

    May 27, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Why Doesn’t GBC help to develop the riverside near the old boathouse, just upstream from Millmead Lock. It would be good if boats could be hired again and river trips could be taken. It would attract more tourists to the town.

  2. C Nicholls Reply

    May 31, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Further to my previous comment regarding a member of Ben’s staff advising me to “look online” rather than helping me in the actual shop, I went into Guildford on Thursday, before work, specifically to get a birthday present from Bens Record shop. I was there at quarter to ten and yet the shop was shut.

    I considered waiting but seeing as there was not even a sign on the door giving opening times, so how long would I have waited, until 10am or 11am? Or maybe his shop doesn’t open on a Thursday [May 30]. How would I as a customer know without a sign on the door? I work just outside of Guildford so I won’t be able to return today or tomorrow.

    I set aside my time to visit the store. I have tried twice now. Once I was told by staff to use the internet so I could have what I wanted the next day and today again I am forced to do the same thing. Yes, I will be internet shopping again because despite wanting to support independent traders in my local town they can’t deliver the goods and no indication as to when or if they will be able to.

    Sadly, another town centre sale lost.

    Response from Ben Darnton

    Oh dear! I am so sorry to have missed C Nicholls, twice.

    I open 10-6 Monday-Friday, 9-6 Saturday & 11-5 on Sundays. I have to open seven days a week to counter the high rent and rates in Guildford.

    His idea of posting our opening times is a good one and I will do so immediately.

    I hope he can contact me and tell me what he is after. If he calls me on 01483 301165 and I will try and help.

    We should only recommend the Internet if we didn’t think we had a reasonable chance of sourcing whatever a customer is seeking.

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