Shepton Mallet in Somerset is a market town that has reinvented itself and managed to turn itself around. It is now a town that is so worth a visit.
The pedestrianised High Street is full of interesting independent shops. When you see a bank converted to a Art Cafe full of art made from their Rubbish Art Project , a Fairy Godmother shop in the old Petshop, and an Italian restaurant in the traditional pub you know that this is not an ordinary High Street.
Building a Retail Park at the top of a High Street is never good news for independent shops.
When a large Tesco Retail Park was built at the top of the town, it spelled the end for many of the shops who could not compete with the giants.
Long gone are the butchers, the greengrocers and there is one single bank left standing in Shepton Mallet.
The High Street was so quiet that a major film company used it as a location for a zombie film starring Corey Feldman and Edward Furlong called The Zombie King
In 2010, A BBC series called Turn Back Time: The High Street used the location of Shepton Mallet for something more positive. The series was made to highlight the struggles of the British High Street and to see if there were lessons that could be learned through history. It put the town on the map and got the nation talking about the future of the High Street. There were recommendations made and the community and local council took many of these on board.
Empty shops were dressed to look occupied, regular events were organised and markets were reintroduced.
It is not a quick process to turn a town around but what has been happening in Shepton Mallet over the past few years shows that it can be done.
The shopkeepers and people of Shepton Mallet have managed to reinvigorate the High Street. With this resurgence of the High Street, there also seems to be a better sense of community in the town.
Or maybe it is the sense of community of the residents in the town that has helped create the resurgence of the High Street.
Whichever way it is, It is great to see Shepton Mallet High Street turning itself around. It is now a great shopping and eating destination for visitors to Somerset.
Make sure and visit the Shepton Sunday Market which is held every 3rd Sunday of the month.