Plans to boost trade in suffering Mansfield shopping centre

Rowena Searby-Rodgers owner of Charmingly Yours Boutique is organising monthly antique fairs in Handley Arcade
Rowena Searby-Rodgers owner of Charmingly Yours Boutique is organising monthly antique fairs in Handley Arcade

A shopkeeper fed up of seeing businesses ‘come and go’ in a suffering Mansfield shopping centre is taking matters into her own hands to help boost trade.

Rowena Searby-Rodgers has run Charmingly Yours Boutique in the Handley Arcade for four years, celebrating her company’s anniversary last month.

But while she says her own business ‘steady away’, almost half of the shops in the arcade now sitting empty.

So in a bid to boost footfall and put the arcade back on the map, she is organising an antique, vintage, retro and craft indoor fair in the arcade early next month.

The 32-year-old is also planning to run them in July and August.

She said: “I was told a long time ago it was the place to come and really thriving, but not now.

“I don’t think it’s just in the arcade, it’s the same around Mansfield if you walk around the town centre there are ‘to let’ signs all over.

“It’s a shame as Handley Arcade has a great historic value to Mansfield.

“We are in a great location due to the museum up this end, but we really could do with a boost in footfall.”

From the nine business properties in the arcade, four are currently sitting empty.

Rowena, who is from Sutton and artist by trade, had also worked as a teacher before opening her own business.

Describing it as her ‘dream job’, she works with other dealers as well as local artists and designers, renting out space to them in her two-floor shop.

“We have our own unique collection of good and we have our own following so I’m quite hopeful that we will keep going but it concerns me that the surrounding businesses are not,” she said.

“We are still trying to find out feet and we are doing okay but a lot of the shops in the arcade are more or less empty.

“It can have a knock-on effect because if there’s more people walking through it’s better for anyone.”

The first indoor fair is planned for Saturday, June 4 from 11am until 3.30pm.

Stalls are £5 and for more details Rowena can be contacted on 07594 801388.

“Everybody seems to be really positive about this would love to make it a regular, once a month event, at least through the summer months,” she said.