Community 'key' to Harrogate independents' survival - Indie Biz Collective
Shops come and go but the recent closure of the final traditional grocer's shop in Harrogate town centre has led to a new appeal for more collaboration in the independent sector.
Having first opened in 1956, it was unlikely the demise of Lowther Fruit Stores on Beulah Street would pass unremarked.Some readers may remember this well-known greengrocers in the days of Lowther Arcade and the old market hall before it became Victoria Shopping Centre, both previous locations for the grocer’s.Lucy Barrow of Indie Biz Collective, is now calling for independents to raise their game and work together.She said: “It’s really sad to see town centre indies closing. Family businesses passed down from generations are finding themselves unable to compete effectively now.“But I think it’s time to pull together and ‘up our game’ if we want our town centres to survive and really thrive. “Launched earlier in the year to support Harrogate and Knaresborough-based independent businesses through digital networking and the hosting of free advice sessions, the collective’s founder said conditions were testing for independents on the high street but they all had to do more.Lucy said: “It’s not easy, especially with shop rents and rates at an all time high but it’s about educating the public about why their support is needed and what will happen if they don’t.“Indies also need to concentrate on providing an offering or service that customers can’t get anywhere else. “A lot of people have pointed out to me that if the big chains such as H&M are no longer able to compete in Harrogate town centre with their huge marketing budgets, how can small indies? To that I would say one simple word - community.”An independent business woman herself, Lucy pointed to York as an example of how to turn thingsa round.In 2010, businesses on Bishopthorpe “Bishy” Road formed a Traders Association to promote the area as an excellent place to shop, live, socialise and work. Since then, the BRTA has hosted successful legendary street parties and events involving the local community. Lucy said: "Lots of similar collaboration projects and opportunities are starting to show up in Harrogate, such as Paul Rawlinson’s ‘Indie Harrogate’ guide, so let’s continue to build on this and find ways to combine forces to create a brighter future for our town centre."Indie Biz Collective’s next free bi-monthly business event will take place in February.