Independent retailers on a Harrogate street are joining together to promote their businesses to shoppers.
The idea to form the Commercial Street Retailers Group was born out of the strong community spirit among traders on the street, which became evident during the recent campaign to light up the town centre this Christmas.
Sue Kramer, from Crown Jewellers, who spearheaded the group’s formation, explained: “Harrogate at Christmas wanted street champions and I was involved with that and what really struck me was the amazing community spirit and how supportive everybody on Commercial Street was.
“Last year, only four shops on Commercial Street gave towards the Christmas lights but, this year, 74 per cent of the shops on the street donated - a higher percentage than any other street - and we raised £770.
“So I thought, let’s nurture that community spirit and use people’s expertise to pull together and make us even stronger and give us more of a voice.”
Only two minutes’ walk from Marks & Spencer, Commercial Street is regarded by some shoppers as “a bit of a grotty street”, said Sue, whereas it actually offers a varied and specialised range of services, including fax and sewing machine repairs, bespoke ski footwear, the largest collection of light classical and jazz CDs in Yorkshire and a choice of 20,000 books at the only second-hand bookshop in Harrogate.
There’s even a world cheese judge at The Cheeseboard, which has been based on the street for more than 30 years.
There are 20 independent businesses along Commercial Street - in fact, the whole street is independent apart from three charity shops - and Sue said many of those businesses had been based on the street for decades.
“We’ve got a rich history and are very proud of our street. We want people to start thinking that we can offer so many different things on Commercial Street and we have a lot of specialist knowledge,” said Sue.
The group held its inaugural meeting last week and traders were updated on work to set up a website, www.harrogateindependentshops.com, as well as being on Facebook and on Twitter @Commercial_St.
It was also decided that the street’s shops will stay open for late night shopping on Thursday, December 1, when they will also be offering complementary hot dogs and mulled wine. The evening will also see the launch of a festive shop window competition for children.
Sue is on the steering committee for the new Harrogate Town Centre Development Group (HTCDG) and said she envisaged the two groups working together.
“The Commercial Street group fits hand-in-glove with the HTCDG because we can put forward issues and initiatives that we need help with and they can take them up on our behalf.”