There was a period of time when shops in Bournemouth town centre were closing left, right and centre and the place was at risk of becoming a ghost town. Luckily, places like The Avenue and Bobby’s have helped ensure that the town centre remains a fun place for a bit of retail therapy, as well as entertainment, eating and drinking.
Bobby’s Department Store is located in Bournemouth Square in what, until a few years ago, was Debenhams Department Store. Already struggling to attract customers, Debenhams closed down during the Covid lockdown and didn’t reopen.
History of Bobby’s
Bobby’s originally opened in 1915 and traded for almost 60 years before becoming Debenhams in 1972. In recent years, it had become rather sad and delaminated, before finally closing its doors to the public in 2020. It was subsequently purchased by property group Verve who brought back the original name and plan to restore the building to its former glory. Verve’s stated goal is to create “A multi-functional destination, centered around beauty, health, food, drink, art, culture and community.”
Th building is being redeveloped in phases, with the first phase, consisting of ground and first floor retail outlets and the second floor art gallery opening in September 2021. A year later, the second phase; the lower ground floor retail outlets and a tunnel linking the store to the Gardens were opened.
- Bobby’s Beauty Hall
- DRGNFLY Sushi & Champagne Bar
- Franco Manca Pizza
- Ice Cream Parlour
- In-Time Watch & Jewellery Repair
- Flaming Nora’s
- South Coast Makers
- The Enchanted Little Village
- Giant Gallery
- Born to Bloom Florist
- Ivyline Inspired Living
- Paw Prints Boutique
- Wild Roots
There is a second entrance to Bobby’s via a tunnel from the lower floor to the Gardens. This newly renovated area now boasts a set of six paintings of iconic Bournemouth buildings (including Bobby’s itself of course) painted by local artist Lucanart. The tunnel also has a history section telling Bobby’s story and displaying artefacts discovered during building work.
One thing that sets Bobby’s apart from the average department store are the wide range of events offered in store. From pop up markets to crafting workshops for adults and children. A list of upcoming events can be found here.
Plans for the next phase include a food hall, roof top restaurant, bar and garden. One thing I love about coming here is that the phased refurbishment mean that that each time I visit, there is something new to enjoy. This sense of anticipation is heightened by the pop ups, events and changing exhibitions at Giant Gallery.
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