All spaces taken at antiques centre in Oxfordshire town within two weeks of opening
When Simon Knight came to
Henley-on-Thames in South Oxfordshire 11 years ago there were more
than ten antiques shops in a town internationally famous for its
Now there are few, something which he
is helping to rectify by taking a Grade II-listed building in
Friday Street, in the town's conservation area, on a long
commercial lease and opening an antiques centre there called Henley
Antiques, selling quality militaria, jewellery, furniture, mirrors
and clocks among other pieces.
He is now trading as Knights Oriental
Rugs, concentrating all his efforts on his worldwide export of
Persian and tribal rugs which form a major part of his antiques
business, from a shop opposite Henley Antiques.
"I decided to offer space to local
dealers who run a business from home, giving them an opportunity to
do this locally, maybe part time, right in the heart of Henley,"
said Mr Knight.
Four months ago - and within two weeks
of opening - the centre's spaces were taken, all by word of mouth,
and now there is a waiting list.
Mr Knight added: "Henley is now
becoming dominated by charity shops and national chains and I
didn't want yet another independent business to go that way. The
centre is a success for the people who have space there. I think
there is enormous potential for groups of people to get together
and share a property to run an independent business in towns like
Henley to ensure that independents survive."
For a town like Henley in the
high-profile catchment area of South Oxfordshire (average house
price £400,000 in 2007), to have such a paucity of antiques shops
is perhaps surprising, but there are also ten art galleries and two
antiquarian bookshops - "possibly more art galleries per head of
population outside of London than anywhere else in the country",
said Peter McConnell, Henley's town centre manager.
Contact 01491 414117.