ONLINE organic store Devlin Rhodes has teamed up with BCoT to open a shop in Basingstoke’s Top of The Town called Aspiral.

The new business venture offers a range of organic, eco and sustainable products at a premises in Church Street that has been empty for several years, following the closure of The Real Brazil restaurant.

Basingstoke and Deane Mayor Councillor Roger Gardiner, accompanied by his Mayoress wife Tricia, officiated by cutting a ribbon to declare the shop open.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council had approached BCoT to see if it would be interested in a two-year subsidised lease to promote student enterprise and to help rejuvenate the Top of The Town area.

Now, BCoT students will be encouraged to use the space to pilot their own projects or sell their work, alongside temporary pop-up shops.

Devlin Rhodes, run by Tara Bowers, based at The Innovation Centre, on Basing View, will be an anchor tenant in the shop on a permanent basis.

Delighted with the new venture, which chimes in well with the college’s green credentials, BCoT principal Anthony Bravo said: “This is such an exciting opportunity for the college and for our local community.

“We are delighted to have Devlin Rhodes partnering us, with their fairtrade reputation, and to be able to offer our students a real enterprise space to test their ideas.

“We want Aspiral to become self-financing so that it continues long after the current two-year lease period ends.”

Very happy with the arrangement, Ms Bowers, said: “This is a positive step for our business. I think this is great because I wouldn’t be able to have a high street shop without being in collaboration.

“This really is a collaboration. It’s not just a landlord-tenant set up – it’s a real partnership with the college. We really hope that the community embraces the enterprise opportunity Aspiral offers and supports the work of our home-grown entrepreneurs.”

The shop also offers space to aspiring business owners to have a pop-up shop to try out their enterprise in a high street setting.

The first to open a pop-up shop at Aspiral is Linda Haskings, who runs an online business called Identity Papers from her Cliddesden Road home, specialising in bespoke printing and hand-made gifts and gift boxes.

Linda described being based at the shop for four weeks as a privilege.

“It’s fabulous for me to have an opportunity to have a presence in a high street,” said Linda. “And it’s also fabulous for me to be able get behind something I really believe in, because I think the pop-up movement is fantastic for businesses in their early stages.”