The aim of the High Barnet Digital High Street – www.lovebarnet.co.uk – is to help kick start a post-coronavirus recovery in town centre trade and create a lasting online presence to promote High Barnet as a shopping and business destination.
Banners promoting the directory have been installed at either end of the High Street – outside the parish church of St John the Baptist and at the start of Hadley Green.
Bob Burstow, secretary of the Barnet Town Team, said the online directory was a chance for people browsing online to “stumble across the unexpected” and find out what was on offer in the High Street and from businesses around the town centre.
“We want to do all we can to help the High Street recover and an initiative like this is just the kind of uplift that’s needed.”
So far 226 shops and business are featured on the digital directory and Mr Burstow hopes that a further 100 to 150 concerns will be encouraged to sign up once they see the success of the site.
Shops and businesses, with names, addresses, illustrations, and logos, are listed on the website in a random order that changes at the start of each hour to ensure there is equal promotion and no favouritism.
A search for a category of business or trade throws up the relevant list – for example, hairdressers 15; public houses 9; restaurants, eat-in 36; take-away 37; churches 9; dentists 5, and so on.
Gail Laser, who founded Love Barnet in 2012, said she was delighted the website she established had been redeveloped in such an imaginative way by a highly experienced web designer.
“What we have is a really accessible online directory providing a fantastic platform on which shops and businesses can be promoted.
“I wanted to do something like this eight years ago under the Outer London Project and the pandemic has been the spur we needed to get our act together and put Love Barnet on the map.”
Ms Laser said that the initial start-up costs had been covered by donations.
Businesses not appearing in the directory are being invited to get in touch and sign up.
“It’s all free of charge at the moment and so is any design work, but in the future, we will have to work out the costs and charge a fee to help with online hosting and other outgoings.”
The Digital High Street project is backed by the Chipping Barnet Town Team, Barnet Society, Barnet Residents Association, and the weekly Barnet online website High Living.
The banners were produced by RHM Events Graphics and were installed on Hadley Green by Nigel Murchison, Stuart Boyce and Phil England.
An A5 poster version of the banner is to be delivered to every High Street business for display in shop windows.