There has been a successful Chamber of Commerce operating in Wareham since 1946. However, in recent years changing circumstances caused its presence to dwindle. This meant there was no active forum through which businesses could work collaboratively and help drive improvements in the town and boost trade.
Many businesses in Wareham, in common with high streets up and down the country were finding trading a struggle and it was felt the full potential of the town was not being realised. Therefore, in July 2019 a group of the town’s businesses came together and decided to re-launch a new Wareham Chamber of Commerce. This would be the voice for the business community to amplify priorities and concerns and to work jointly to improve the local business environment. It was clear Wareham needed a strong business voice to address the increasing challenges.
The Chamber recognises it will take time to put in place the events, activities and schemes which will help support the town. Chair of the Chamber, Sarah Wharmby, from Purbeck Living on South Street, says, ‘We already have a good number of members, many of whom have been working together to improve what we, as businesses offer our customers.’
They began in a small way at Christmas developing activities to make Christmas shopping more fun and encourage shoppers to explore the breadth of the high street. Over 60 businesses took part in the Wareham Christmas Letter Trail where the winners won a hamper of produce donated by the shopkeepers’ worth over £200; plus, 20 took part in the Christmas window competition. In addition, there was a very successful voucher scheme where shoppers could spend in one shop and win a voucher to obtain a free gift in another shop.
There are already many ideas which members are keen to develop in 2020, to enhance both the town and improve what is available for the local community and visitors. This, in turn should help their businesses flourish and continue to make Wareham a wonderful place to live in or visit.