'Instagram generation' key to Bedford shops success

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Made in Bedford collectiveImage source, Andrew Southard/Pixate
Image caption,
The Made In Bedford collective started with eight members in 2016 and now has 78

An art and crafts collective is hoping the Instagram generation, which "likes to show off", will help its new town centre store succeed.

Made in Bedford, featuring about 80 "creators", is opening a cafe and shop in a town which is due to lose its large Marks & Spencer in May.

Nikkita Palmer, 25, who makes furniture from old pallets, said shopping is now all about offering an "experience".

Rachel Atkinson, its founder, said they aimed to be "better than John Lewis".

The new venture, called Made in Bedford at Number 13, is on St Paul's Square, next to Bedford Corn Exchange, and it opens on Saturday.

Image source, Andrew Southard/Pixate
Image caption,
Nikkita Palmer, Rachel Atkinson and Talia Giles are all members of the Made in Bedford collective

Artist Talia Giles, 34, sees the shop as a stepping stone to bigger things and hopes that as it gets more well known they will be able to expand and run workshops, create an artist studio and offer performance arts.

She said the old trades are becoming more popular and are bucking the trend against mass-produced items.

"If you are going to buy a mug, don't buy four cheap ones, but buy a beautifully crafted one from a local potter that will become a talking point."

Ms Palmer said: "The Instagram generation, they like to show off, and support local business. They want to know the story, where it has come from, how it was made.

"They want to connect with the worker, have something personal and unique - they want an experience."

Image source, Andrew Southard/Pixate
Image caption,
The vegetarian and vegan cafe, will sell coffee roasted in Ampthill and tea blended in Bedford

Ms Atkinson, 57, who started the collective in 2016, said that if artists want to sell their goods, they can do so for free, in exchange for working one day in the vegetarian and vegan cafe.

"What we are offering is unique, not mass-produced but local and sustainable," she said.

"We want to rival John Lewis in quality, in fact we will be better than John Lewis."

Image source, Andrew Southard/Pixate
Image caption,
Items that will be sold include jewellery, ceramics, leather goods, organic soap, cards, textiles, home wear and sculptures

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