Thanet Virtual High Street looks forward to meeting customers face to face at April events

Getting ready for business in the 'real' world Credit:Philip Steury

An online ‘high street’ that was created last July to help independent businesses continue to trade through the covid lockdown will now make the move into the ‘real world.’

Thanet Virtual High Street was set up by charity sector worker Karen Brinkman while she was furloughed from her role.

The idea was an instant hit and now boasts some 4.6k members with small businesses taking the opportunity to share their goods and services.

The group, promoting everything from art galleries to bakers and IT to beauty, has even expanded with Karen, from Westbrook, branching out to create a Thanet Virtual Wedding Fair group earlier this year.

Now, as businesses look ahead to reopening in April and May, Karen is hoping to help with the transition back to face-to-face trading and has organised two fairs to take place at the Under 1 Roof Thanet site in Ramsgate’s Pysons Road.

Under 1 Roof Thanet is reopening for outdoor entertainment with a Bounce Fest event this month and preparations are also being made for the Thanet Dinky Town venture to open onsite next month.

Alongside this, the business is hosting the Thanet Virtual High Street fairs.

Karen said: “On March 23, 2020, the country went into lockdown and by July the Thanet Virtual High Street had been created to help support small local businesses.

“But now TVHS is looking at ways of helping to move these businesses back from virtual to reality. TVHS has been a lifeline for many during lockdown but now is the time to start to help them to bounce back and provide some safe opportunities for them to meet their virtual customers face to face. “

On April 17 TVHS is staging a wedding fair from 6pm to 9pm. Entry is free and the fair will feature a range of suppliers.

Karen said: “There are so many couples desperate to speak to wedding suppliers so we’ve arranged a fair to enable them to discuss their special day. “

On April 24-25 TVHS is staging a two-day Spring fair with local independents manning stalls from 10am to 4pm with offerings including crafts, jewellery and food.

Karen said: “This will be full of fabulous businesses that have been part of the virtual high street but can now actually meet some of the people who ordered from them during lockdown and lots of new customers also.

“Both events are being staged at Under 1 Roof, Thanet, an amazing venue that itself only opened just before lockdown. It will be lovely to breathe life into this new venture and allow locals to see its fantastic facilities. Thanet Virtual High Street will definitely continue but it’s time for virtual and reality to work hand in hand.”

Find Thanet Virtual High Street on facebook here

Find Under 1 Roof Thanet on facebook here