Rotherham celebrates its independent shops

Published Tuesday, 1st July 2014
Independents Day Logo
Independents' Day Logo

On Friday July 4, Rotherham is getting set to celebrate its many varied independent retailers.

Rotherham's independent shops and market stalls will be supporting the national "Independents' Day" campaign, which is in its fourth year of highlighting the UK's millions of independent retailers and encourage the importance of shopping locally.

Rotherham town centre, which is seen as a benchmark for the Portas Pilot project, offers everything from bespoke gifts to high-end hair stylists, quirky clothes, homemade delicacies and a host of sweet treats.

Rotherham's independent shop owners are inviting both new and existing customers to come and see the vast range of items for sale in the town centre and see for themselves why Mary Portas herself has praised it so highly.

Independent shop owners will displaying branded posters throughout July to raise awareness of the importance of shopping local and supporting independent businesses.

Shoppers can get a taste of what the town centre has to offer and have the Deputy Mayor of Rotherham, Cllr Maggi Clark, sign them up for the phenomenally popular "Shop Local" discount card on the day at 12 noon in front of Halifax on Howard Street.

The Shop Local scheme offers an array of discounts for loyal shoppers looking for a bargain. The scheme was launched in June 2010 and has so far encouraged over 15,000 cardholders to enjoy the benefits of discounts, offers and free gifts in over 100 Rotherham stores.

The Deputy Mayor will also be handing out awards to the shops who scored platinum in a recent "Mystery Shopper" evaluation. This year’s winners include Smith Bros. The Ring Shop, second time winner The Frame Gallery, Pinders School Wear, skateboard shop Props, Whistlestop Sweet Shop and Speedy Shoe Service.

Cabinet Member for Business Growth and Regeneration, Cllr Dominic Beck, is encouraging both new and experienced businesses to take part in Independents' Day.

He said: "Rotherham is a real benchmark when it comes to independent retailers. We've grasped the Portas Pilot initiative with both hands and made sure that every penny has counted in terms of bringing retail excellence to the town centre.

"With over 150 Independent Retailers, Rotherham offers a lot more than you would expect and, coupled with the high standards of customer service being attained in the town centre as seen with the Platinum awards, it’s a great place to shop.

"From Corporation Street and Riverside Precinct to the myriad of shops at Imperial Buildings and High Street, across to the award winning historic markets complex which offers a six-day shopping experience, there’s something for everyone.

"Rotherham town centre has continued to buck the national trend by getting more and more people into the town centre and its thanks in part to our wonderful range of shops.

"It’s estimated that for every £1 spent locally around 52 pence remains within the local economy, which is incredibly important to a place like Rotherham.

"On average over 100 UK retailers close their doors every week, we're very fortunate that it’s not the case here in Rotherham, in fact, we have reduced our occupancy rate by four per cent in the last three years.

"It's thanks to your support for local businesses that help Rotherham to grow and continue to be able to offer these fantastic shops. It's our town, we live and work here, and if we don’t support our small businesses, who else will?"

Kara Chapman, Rotherham's Independents' Day champion and owner of Whistlestop Sweet Shop, said: "Rotherham’s Independents' Days have gone from strength to strength since being instigated by Laura from Bittersweet Boutique a couple of years ago, with all independent retailers and the Council fully getting behind the initiative.

"They really show the pride and strong bond we have as shop owners and our determination to bring innovative products and ideas to our customers.

Dawn Topliss, owner of Craft Corner and The Bears Den at Riverside Precinct added: "It's great to see Rotherham town centre buzzing with so many people of all ages. It's become such a diverse place and Independents' Day is a fantastic way to celebrate the fact.

"We hope to see both new and existing customers on the day and give everyone a real taste of the friendly atmosphere and customer service we can offer."

To coincide with Independents Day, the "Rotherham Independent of the Year" competition will be launched and will run until the end of July.

Members of the public will be able to support their favourite local shop by casting their votes by visiting the Rotherham Advertiser website and following the link (or click on the link below).

The winning retailer will receive £1,000 worth of free advertising with the Rotherham Advertiser. Plus, everyone who votes will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win a fantastic hamper worth £100!

Dawn concluded: "The prize will mean the earth to the winning shop. To be able to get your message out there in way that will reach so many people would be a huge boost to anyone.

"Whichever shop is your favourite, make sure you cast your vote and give them a chance of winning. It only takes a couple of seconds but it would mean a lot to one of our town centre retailers."