A new unit is opening in Andover tomorrow (April 17), giving not one but six different businesses an outlet for their goods in the Chantry Centre.

The InAndover Shared Shop is opening at 10am on Saturday, which aims to allow businesses without a presence on the high street to ‘test the waters’ by selling their products from the unit. Should it be successful, they will then be supported to take over a unit of their own.

The shop is being spearheaded by Andover BID and Test Valley Borough Council, with Steve Godwin, BID manager, saying he was “really enthusiastic” about the new venture.

He said: “We open with six great businesses and a soft launch to comply with Covid restrictions and hope that in June we can have a proper celebration.

“Interestingly, we have another four or five fledgling businesses expressing interest so we are confident that the shared shop will be a great success.”

The shared unit was first announced back in November, occupying a unit opposite from the Toy Arena in the Chantry Centre. Work has been underway since then to make the space ready for its grand opening.

Six businesses have been signed up so far, including Wessex Spirits, The Andover Tap, CJM Eyewear, Junction Road Curiosities, Eitri Forge and Sweet Ideas.

While some of these businesses already have a physical space, such as Wessex Spirits’ tasting room, having an outlet on the high street is hoped to drive custom to them. For others, such as The Andover Tap, their high street building is currently closed due to Covid restrictions, and so will allow them to keep providing their goods for sale.

“We’re going to be taking up some of the space in the shared shop in the Chantry Centre,” Tim Abram, the Tap’s owner, told the Advertiser, “so at least we’ll have decent bottled craft beer and a local offering in Andover you can do proper takeaways from.”

For others, the unit will be their first time in bricks and mortar.

In return for having rent free space in the shop, as well as receiving training and advice from the BID, the businesses have to agree to be “committed to Andover,” have a product with an Andover or Test Valley connection and commit their time to running the businesses in the unit.

Steve says that this holistic approach is what sets the shop apart.

He said: “We have been clear to market the unit, not as a pop up shop but as a retail incubator called the InAndover Shared Shop with the aim of supporting and developing the businesses so that if successful they can eventually move into their own units.”

The shop opens at 10am tomorrow morning, and will be initially open from 10am-5pm on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with the potential for an extension of hours in the future.