Coronavirus: Colne business owners make VIRTUAL high street online


Business owners transform Lancashire town of Colne into VIRTUAL high street with website allowing residents to shop at local stores online during lockdown

  • Around 80 firms involved in venture designed to help boost pre-Christmas trade
  • Shoppers choose stores online, then click and collect or access free delivery
  • Entrepreneurs feared firms would have to shut down due to Covid restrictions 

Business owners have transformed their entire town into a virtual high street, with a website allowing residents to shop at local stores online during lockdown.

Around 80 firms in Colne, Lancashire, are involved in the venture designed to help them trade in the run-up to Christmas – their busiest period of the year.

Retailers have signed up to the specially-created website that includes all the high street shops.

Shoppers access Come to Colne, choose which the store they want to shop at, and then either click and collect or have their shopping delivered locally free of charge. 

Business owners in Colne, Lancashire, have transformed their entire town into a virtual high street, with a website allowing residents to shop at local stores online during lockdown

Around 80 firms are involved in the venture designed to help them trade in the run-up to Christmas - their busiest period of the year

Around 80 firms are involved in the venture designed to help them trade in the run-up to Christmas – their busiest period of the year

Shoppers access Come to Colne, choose which the store they want to shop at, and then either click and collect or have their shopping delivered locally free of charge

Shoppers access Come to Colne, choose which the store they want to shop at, and then either click and collect or have their shopping delivered locally free of charge

Jane Turner, owner of Tubbs restaurant and bar in the town, devised the idea after deciding to sell wine and cheese gifts sets online when she feared the business would be shut down by coronavirus restrictions.

She said: ‘With the furlough scheme, we’d have received between 60 to 70 per cent funding, so we decided to start sending out wine and cheese and biscuits gift boxes to try to make-up the difference.

‘When the national lockdown was announced, we decided to transform the entire high street into a virtual operation.’

The scheme received £10,000 funding from Pendle Borough Council and Colne Business Improvement District (BID) and was up and running in less than two weeks.

Jane, 47, who is also a director of BID, added: ‘Christmas is a really important time for retailers.

‘It is empowering businesses and helping them survive in these difficult times.

‘It allows people to still shop on the high street but in a virtual sense.

‘If we can keep the idea of the high street in people’s minds, when we are allowed to open again, they will return.

Jane Turner, owner of Tubbs restaurant and bar in the town, devised the idea after deciding to sell wine and cheese gifts sets online when she feared the business would be shut down by coronavirus restrictions.

Jane Turner, owner of Tubbs restaurant and bar in the town, devised the idea after deciding to sell wine and cheese gifts sets online when she feared the business would be shut down by coronavirus restrictions.

‘It is a way of future-proofing the town and doesn’t have to be just for lockdown.

‘We need to do everything we can to keep the high street alive and make people want to shop in Colne.’

Shops on the virtual high street include clothes, food, home interiors, restaurants and gift outlets.

Shauna Withnell, 32, owner of giftware shop Saint’z (correct) Dragons, said: ‘It is a wonderful idea to help keep businesses going.

‘The speed it has all been put together is fantastic and is brilliant for small businesses like myself.

‘Come To Colne will make a big difference to our livelihoods.’

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