'Completely new arcade' - Nine businesses to open in historic mall
- Credit: Caroline Gummer
Big changes are in store for a historic shopping arcade on the coast where nine new shops are preparing to open for business.
The Victoria Arcade, in Great Yarmouth, has struggled in recent times - but last year its owners slashed rents in a bid to bring new traders into the mall.
And over the third lockdown, which began in January, entrepreneurs both old and new have been moving into some of the building's vacant units, hoping to bring life back to the arcade.
Among the new businesses - some of which will open on Monday (April 12) as lockdown restrictions are further loosened - are a toy shop, a dog grooming salon, a men's clothing store, a cash and carry discount store, a sweet shop, and tearooms named Xanadu.
Caroline Gummer, 38, who runs Caroline Jean Flowers and Gifts, said: "We've managed to fill the arcade, minus three shops, so it's going to look great.
"It will look like a completely new arcade."
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She opened her business in 2019 and has now moved to another unit, having also added a florist.
Ms Gummer said that some of the businesses will be working together, coming up with new ideas to attract people to the arcade.
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"We're trying to make sure there are lots of different shops down here and to bring something different to the town," she said.
One of the new businesses will be run by 65-year-old Geoff Bateman, who is opening Toybox 55 on Monday (April 12).
His first venture into running a shop is an extension of a lockdown hobby - building Lego.
Mr Bateman explained that he bought his daughter a selection of the building blocks for Christmas and that after she had tired of the game, he continued to build sets himself.
Originally, he was going to sell the Lego at car boot sales, but an empty unit at Victoria Arcade came along "at the right time and at the right price".
"It's the first time I've done this, so I'm hoping it works out and that we don't go into another lockdown," he said.
His shop will sell both new and pre-owned Lego, as well as a range of other toys.
While in January last year, only half of the arcade's 34 units were occupied, now there are only three vacant premises.
The mall opened in 1925 as Central Arcade.
More details on the mall, including a full list of businesses, can be found on its Facebook page.