A CAMPAIGN to celebrate independent traders has taken over Southbourne.

Businesses were encouraged to host events, welcome pop-up stalls, and work together across the weekend for the Love Southbourne project.

Love Southbourne was launched five weeks ago by Simon Bentley and James Fowler, two Southbourne traders keen to promote their high street.

James, who owns The Larder House, said: “After the last few years of Covid, we’re trying to encourage people to come back to the high street. It’s about showcasing how good the high street is and engaging with the traders.

“There’s a clear need for it, and there’s a clear passion coming from the traders that they want to get involved and express themselves.”

Bournemouth Echo: Signs on Southbourne high street this weekendSigns on Southbourne high street this weekend (Image: NQ)

Simon, who owns the Wight Bear added: “It’s something that we want to carry forward, and into the new year and beyond to keep highlighting how unique and electric the whole Southbourne community is for retail.”

By Saturday morning, the event had built momentum, and the community spirit was thriving. 

Whilst some traders showed their support with Love Southbourne poster displays, others organised free events for shoppers, made special cakes, offered discounts, or welcomed pop-up businesses and stalls.

And whatever their involvement, Simon said they all had "a real smile" on their faces.

Bournemouth Echo: Carla Hutchings outside Harry's Coffee House Carla Hutchings outside Harry's Coffee House (Image: NQ)

Harry's Coffee House had made space for independent travel agent Carla Hutchings, allowing her to promote her company Swords Travel.

Carla said: “For me this, it is a great way of engaging with the community. It’s getting my name out there.

“Allowing me to pop up in another business just shows how close we are as a community. It’s great team spirit."

A number of other independent traders could be seen dotted along the high street, and outside shop fronts. 

Bournemouth Echo: Melanie Goodwin with her SeedPod Studio stallMelanie Goodwin with her SeedPod Studio stall (Image: NQ)

One of those traders was Melanie Goodwin, who runs arts and crafts business SeedPod Studio.

Melanie said: “At a time like this, its difficult for people trying to make money and make a living, so buying locally, sustainable and supporting local artists is really good."

Also on Saturday, the head chef at The Larder House, Luke Jefford, took members of the public on a free one-hour foraging tour around Fishermans Walk.

Bournemouth Echo: The foraging tour run by the head chef at The Larder HouseThe foraging tour run by the head chef at The Larder House (Image: NQ)

Since its launch, Love Southbourne has been praised by business owners and residents who are keen to support the campaign in any way they can.

Karen, owner of Tilly’s Gifts and a supporter of Love Southbourne, said: “It’s a thriving, exciting and full high street at the minute, and we want to keep it that way.

"Love Southbourne is a step in the right direction. It feels very community driven.”

What the event highlighted was that despite changing shopping habits, the fall out of Covid and soaring costs, traders are refusing to give up on Southbourne.

Bournemouth Echo: Southbourne during the campaign weekendSouthbourne during the campaign weekend (Image: NQ)

Simon Bentley said: "I think the level of quality of all the independent traders is what keeps us going.

“You can be here from your first cup of tea in the morning, to your last pint in the evening. There’s so much choice here for everyone, from your old school bakehouse patisserie to a bespoke cheese shop across the road, to Spanish tapas and Harry’s [Coffee House].

“And everyone’s small enough that they don’t tread on each other’s toes.”