BUSINESSES in Hartlepool have pledged their support to our campaign to keep the town’s retailers thriving.
Our Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local campaign is a week old and is already a winner in these people’s eyes - all based in the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
Melanie Carberry, 32, set up her independent firm called Soap and Soul after a lifetime of searching for that perfect job.
She applied for around 3,000 jobs to hopefully best use her expertise from art college, from management courses and from work in the retail sector. She held ten different jobs before taking time off when she became a mum, to raise her three children.
And when she returned to the jobs market, she decided it was time to go into business for herself. She took up an offer from Hartlepool Enterprise Centre to take out a unit in the Indoor market within Middleton Grange for six months, rent free. Soap and Soul sells “alternative products” such as tarot cards, incense, crystals, and alternative clothing.
Melanie said: “It is going really well. We have a lot of regular customers.”
She makes sure she supports other people by displaying the works of local artists.
And she gave her support to Shop Local.
“Buying local is really important. It supports local businesses,” she added.
Mother of three and grandmother of five Susan Levoir, 57, runs Us 4 Books with her husband Keith, 59.
They have been based in the indoor market for five years and, before that, ran a stall on the outdoor market in Hartlepool. They have been self employed for about 15 years.
Us 4 Books sells “pre-loved books” said Susan who firmly believes in recycle. The business both sells books, mostly second hand ones, and re-trades books which are brought back to them in part exchange.
Susan gave her support to the Hartlepool Mail campaign and said: “If people start going out of town, we are finished. I have a lot of people who come in a couple of times a week. They will take a book to read and then exchange it for another one. That is about 90 per cent of my business.”
Fiona Boston runs two businesses within an Indoor Market unit.
They are The Make-Up Box, which sells cosmetics, fragrances and toiletries, and Faking-It which supplies items such as hair accessories.
Both are run by Fiona Boston, 48, with a helping hand from her daughter Sophie-lisa Smith, 24.
Fiona said: “We think Middleton Grange is the most fabulous shopping centre in the North East.
“Everything you need is under one roof.
“I can not see why people would want to go out of town. This is a safe environment to shop in with cheap car parking and good security.”
The Make-Up Box has existed for 14 years and Faking-It for 14 months.
Clothes specialist Bon Marche, which employs 12 people in town, also got behind the campaign.
Store manager Alison Usher said: “This is all about keeping business alive and making people aware that we have something to offer.
“Trade is good and footfall is up by 14 per cent.”
Ian Davies is store manager at BHS, one of the bigger attractions in the centre.
He said: “We are an anchor tenant and we have a credible offer. We are not the MetroCentre but I would like to think we can go toe to toe with others. We do have a broad spectrum of retailers here, both owners occupiers in the market hall and the likes of us. With the mix that there is, there is not another town in the North East like it.”
He urged people to shop local and said:” it us about shopping here instead of heading to the A19.
“To grow the offer here, it will happen if people utilise it.”
Mr Davies said it was also important for the retailers already in the centre to make sure the offer they gave was unique.
Ian Walker, store director at Specsavers which also backed our campaign, said: “I believe this scheme is a really important initiative.
“We have some great shops and excellent retailers in town, they all deserve our custom.
“I try and shop local whenever I can and encourage everyone to do the same.
“It’s only through this continued investment that retailers can thrive, improve and continue to employ local people.
“As a proud supporter of Hartlepool and employer of many local people, I encourage all to support this very important initiative.
“Shopping local, saves shops and local jobs.
“In some respects the importance of the shop local scheme can not be underestimated.
“Keep your money local, save jobs and keep the town vibtant.’’