A MAN born and raised in Southend is delighted to be helping bring life back to Southend High Street as he reopens a gift and gadgets store next month.

Darren Carol, assistant manager of MenKind Southend, and his team are reopening the store on November 1.

MenKind was opened last year at 170 High Street – the same spot it is returning to – on a temporary basis for Christmas.

Mr Carol says he hopes the move can be made permanent this time around

“We were a Christmas temporary store last year but ran a little longer because of Covid keeping stores from being able to trade”, Darren explained.

“This year we have decided to come back, due to how successful it was last year. It was a huge success, and we had more customers than we were initially expecting.

He added: “We’re hoping it’s not temporary. We’re in the process of working that out with the company at the moment, but we are hoping it can be a permanent move.”

MenKind is a gift and gadget retailer “that’s all about fun, geeking out, embracing your inner child”.

“We are very good for novelty gifts for Christmas, unusual gifts like marvel collectables, niche stuff for Christmas,” Darren said.

MenKind started in 2001 and is known for opening dozens of pop-up stores over the Christmas period to boost sales.

With Christmas gift ideas ranging from gaming to food and gardening to secret Santa, Darren says the team expect to be busy over the festive period.

The local lad added he was pleased the chain was returning to Southend, and hopes that a potential permanent move into the area could help breathe life into the town’s – soon to be city – commercial sector.

“I’m from Southend myself and it’s been quite a disappointing couple of years watching a lot of retail disappear from the High Street,” Darren said. “I’m quite excited for my hometown that there is now another shop available for people to use, and it’s one that I know a lot of people are quite excited about.

“We will be in the store this week rebuilding and setting up and then on November 1, at 9am, we’re open to the public again.”