Village's bid to 'Counter the Crunch'

REGARDED as one of the country's finest medieval villages and boasting exclusive shops and businesses, you would imagine Lavenham is better prepared than most to deal with the impact of the credit crunch.

Will Clarke

REGARDED as one of the country's finest medieval villages and boasting exclusive shops and businesses, you would imagine Lavenham is better prepared than most to deal with the impact of the credit crunch.

But business leaders are not taking anything for granted this Christmas and have launched a campaign to encourage residents to “use 'em or lose 'em”.

A poster campaign, encouraging Lavenham to “Counter the Crunch” and echoing the famous wartime slogan of Lord Kitchener, has been offered to shops while an international Christmas market will be held in a bid to boost trade on the historic streets.


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But while designed to help in “these uncertain economic times”, some of the speciality products and diverse goods are not exactly the kind of items usually associated with a purse-tightening climate.

The likes of tempting French charcuterie, Italian shoes and bags, pashminas and Turkish baklay will all be on offer alongside local shops extending their opening hours into the evening of December 11.

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Regis Crepy, owner of the Great House and member of the Lavenham Merchant's Guild, which is hosting the market, admitted that the economic turmoil had crept into the picture postcard village.

He said: “We have many wonderful shops and galleries in Lavenham but as is happening elsewhere in the country, they are finding business is tough at the moment.

“So guild members are lending their weight to organise an event that will appeal to, and entertain, visitors and residents alike.”

The market has attracted stallholders from all over Europe promising a range of speciality products.

And existing businesses have welcomed the initiative, hoping it will attract more custom into village shops.

Sarah Cornwell, owner of giftware ship Village Fete and clothing outlet Vintage Pink, said: “The merchant's guild has done a fabulous job regarding the existing French market and we are sure the Christmas fair will also bring people in.

“We haven't been hit as much by the economic problems as some but we mustn't get complacent and we need to make sure people don't forget about us.”

The “Counter the Crunch” posters, urging support of local businesses, are now displayed in shop windows with accompanying leaflets distributed to all households.

Philip Gibson, vice chairman of Lavenham Parish Council and owner of the Angel Gallery, said: “Lavenham is one of the finest medieval villages that attract visitors from around the world. But we have to work hard to keep it this way.”

The international Christmas market will run between 2pm and 9pm on December 11.

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