National campaigns urge shoppers to support independent traders at the heart of the local economy

A city centre boutique has survived the impact of lockdown by enhancing a delivery service which dates back to the days of Hull’s infamous orange barriers.

A sewing and haberdashery shop is on standby to carry out re-measurements and alterations for brides and grooms across the region who were forced to postpone their weddings – and who might not be the same size when their big day finally arrives.

Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday takes place this weekend.

A watch and clock repair business has been counting the days, hours and minutes of life under lockdown in readiness to get things ticking over again in time for Christmas.

All three shops, and many more just like them, are being celebrated as part of Small Business Saturday, which takes place this weekend. They are also acknowledged in the nationwide Where You Shop Matters campaign, which promotes homegrown independent shopkeepers as the lifeblood of local communities.

Kathryn Shillito, HullBID Executive Director, said: “Small Business Saturday and the Visa campaign are all about the innovation and initiatives demonstrated by local independent businesses and that’s why the sector is at the heart of so much of our work. The Visa website links to many of our city centre businesses through the ShopAppy scheme and we promote offers via the HullBID City Centred Facebook page.

“Local independents bring so much quality, creativity and character and we see that throughout the city centre in Humber Street, Hepworth’s Arcade, Paragon Arcade and some of the units in our main streets.

“These events have never been more relevant than this year, with the loss of so many major brands having a devastating effect on town and city centres and the situation made even more severe by the impact of Covid-19.

“But it is important to recognise that our city centre’s great strength is its foundation of independent businesses operating in so many different sectors including retail, hospitality, personal care, professional services and so much more. They are locally-owned and locally-run, able to make their own decisions about investment and expansion and flexible enough to adapt when times are hard.”

Bronx Clothing, Paragon Square, Hull.
Bronx Clothing, Paragon Square, Hull.

Joe Mallinson of Bronx Clothing in Paragon Square said the local delivery service launched in 2016 to counter the problems of the barriers had kept Bronx alive this year.

He said: “We started the deliveries when people didn’t want to come into the city centre because of the orange barriers and we’ve been really busy with them this year when we couldn’t open the shop.

“We’ve built up a big international customer base and we’ve seen a big increase in local orders this year as people found they had spare cash because they weren’t spending on pubs or meals out or holidays. We’re delivering free within the HU postcode but we’re also working hard to encourage people to come into the shop.

“It is difficult for all businesses but we have some great independents who have been here a long time. We’ve been going more than 30 years and there are others like Leonard Silver and Brookes Menswear who have been around a long time. This year has been awful and has affected everybody one way or another but Hull is a great place, there are people around with money to spend and we hope they will come into the city centre.”

Angie Biggs, owner of A Stitch in Time in Savile Street.
Angie Biggs, owner of A Stitch in Time in Savile Street.

Angie Biggs, owner of A Stitch in Time in Savile Street, spent the first lockdown expanding her embroidery service with a specialist machine and a new recruit. She also improved the area of her shop which is used for wedding gowns.

She said: “We do alterations for bridal gowns and suits and having helped people get ready for this year we’ve heard from a lot who had to postpone their weddings, so we’ll help them again when the time comes because some of them might be a bit smaller or bigger!

“We also do curtains and blinds so we’ve been able to help people apply the finishing touches to the home decorating projects that have been going on this year. We also have a haberdashery section for people who want to make things themselves.”

The Watch and Clock Hospital in Carr Lane also reopened this week, continuing a sales and repairs service which dates back to 1985.

Paul Seaward, director of the business, said: “We do the simple things like battery replacements, we specialise in antique clocks and we do high-end watch brands with genuine parts. We are still here because of our customer services, and we keep getting new customers because other places can’t do the specialist work, or because even if they can it takes weeks or possibly months.”

To view the offers on the HullBID City Centred Facebook page please visit https://www.facebook.com/CityCentredHull/ 

BID businesses can promote their own offers free of charge by sending the details to Catherine@hullbid.co.uk

To view the local businesses featured on the ShopAppy scheme please visit https://shopappy.com/hull/shops/

[Phil Ascough – Ascough Associates]