THE owner of a vibrant vintage store in Southend is looking to expand after a change in fortunes has seen her business become a huge hit.

Fiona Foster, 61, opened By The Sea Vintage in Alexandra Street, two-and-a-half years ago and admits a tough start had her fearing for the future.

However, a growing number of businesses in the area have seen trade boom, and she is now even considering opening a second branch in nearby Leigh.

By The Sea Vintage sells an eclectic range of clothing and Fiona has thanked the owners of neighbouring businesses on the street for helping bring extra customers to the area.

She said: “We had a good year last year, but have had a sticky few months this year but it is now picking up again. The weather has been a really major part of that, who wants to go out clothes shopping when it is so bad?

“The election is coming up as well and people have less to spend but I believe the area has really helped us here, it is thriving.

“It helps bring people through our doors and into the city centre.

“From that they then find us and even when people come into our store with Primark bags, it does help people.

“We are quite happy here and we have a good position as well. It’s been two-and-a-half years and we are looking to elsewhere, somewhere in Leigh, but Southend does need shops around here like us.

“Southend also needs more varied stores, we want the competition.

“But I am ambitious and I want something else.”

Independent shop Books On Sea, also in Alexandra Street, as well as Bunker 19 virtual golf bar, and the Twelve Cocktails Bar, alongside other businesses have all been credited for bringing extra people to the road off Southend High Street.

Ms Foster added the store is managing well of late thanks to their window displays and continued role as a “go to” Southend Vintage store.

“Things have been great and our shop is very bright, our current window display is our best one yet,” she added.

“We have something of a monopoly on vintage fashion down this street, though we welcome the competition.”