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Clacton Common Village... otherwise known as Ghost Town
Clacton Factory Outlet (Clacton-on-Sea, Essex)
Member Name: Stephoohla
Clacton Factory Outlet (Clacton-on-Sea, Essex)
Advantages: Fairly cheap buys, no queues!
Disadvantages: Never any people there, stores closing down left, right and centre
When residents of Clacton on Sea heard of a Clacton Factory Shopping Village opening in the outskirts of their town, there was a mixed review. As I was a young teen at the time, my reaction was 'what's the point, I can't get there'. My mum's reaction was 'yippee, more clothes shops'. But nearly all of the rest just thought it'd be another waste of money that would be a 2 second wonder. And how right they were.
Residents of Clacton and surrounding areas have another name for the Clacton Common Shopping Village now... Ghost Town. And it literally is. How the shops keep afloat there, I'll never understand. The last time I went was a few months ago, and it was only to go and see my friend who works there. I couldn't no more than 5 people in the whole complex.
Right, for those who don't know what it is, I'll inform you. I'll call it CCSV (Clacton Common Shopping Village or Clacton Factory Outlet) for ease. It was built quite a few years ago now, on a large site in the industrial area of Clacton, where there is lots of factories and warehouses. Not a typical place for a shopping centre, but I assume they were trying to be like Braintree Freeport, built in a similar location not near the town centre.
I reckon there started out about 35 shops in the complex. Mostly female clothes shops, but with also a few men's shops, luggage/bag shops, a sweet shop, a few cafes, the 'Banana Bookshop' which is a cheap and cheerful creative arts shop, a sports shop and a few 'pretending to be designer but not' shops, that flogged cheap 'designer' clothes.
It was built in a horse shoe shape with entrances/exits at both ends so it was actually laid out fairly well, as you can walk from one end to the other without having to double-back on yourself to get back to the car park.
In the centre is a fairly large children's area, with a pirate ship made of wood, climbing apparatus/monkey bars and so on. Shortly after in this area they also built a life-size chess/draughts set.
In the first couple of years, the CCSV went down fairly well. I went there quite often as my mum enjoyed going there, and the Banana Bookshop really entertained me as it was full of cheap junk but also some creative arty bits and lots of books. The sweet shop always had a promise of a bag of jelly babies too, if I could persuade my mum enough. Although the shops always had exactly the same stuff in, quite a few people still went there regularly.
There was a card shop on the complex that sold very cheap cards too, and the Bed and Bath shop attracted quite a large audience.
But somehow, this all felt like a novelty.
And true to this, another couple of years on, the Village became Ghost Town. Hardly anyone goes there because, whilst it sells cheap stuff, it's not cheap enough to qualify a big trip out there. Everything purchaseable in the CCSV can be easily brought in a cheapo shop in town, or in Tescos.
After the massive financial fall the country experienced at the beginning of the year of 2009, a load of shops in the Village unfortunately had to close, leaving it even more like a Ghost Town.
When this fact was in sight, someone immediately took up the offer of buying half of the over-sized car park and building an ice rink on it. I have no idea if this has had any success or whether it's even open yet, but I've not heard of any marketing/advertising for it so I assume that has gone bust too.
I can't say all bad things about the Village. It was a fun novelty whilst it was popular. And when it was busy, there was a nice atmosphere, almost like a whole community was built as all the shop staff were friendly and seemed to know each other, as I suppose quite a lot of them probably met up for lunch in one of the two cafes available.
Perhaps now the worst of this horrible climate is over the CCSV might stand strong and build so that it can become better. I think better management might help liven the place up, and a few more attractions other than some fairly cheap shops and a kids play area.
Quite a lot of holidaymakers read about this Village when planning their trips, but I beg you, please don't come down to Clacton just to visit this complex! Whilst there isn't really that many nice things to do in Clacton, there are some, but don't let this be the deal breaker! :P
Summary: Not my favorite place to shop
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