Small Harrogate shop's 'cut rates and rents' plea

A small independent Harrogate book shop which became nationally famous after its tweet for help went viral has joined growing pressure for lower rates and rents.

Thursday, 20th September 2018, 11:15 am
Updated Thursday, 20th September 2018, 11:17 am
Literary hero - Imagined Things owner Georgia Duffy inside her award-winning bookshop at Westminster Arcade in Harrogate.

Imagined Things, which last week won an award for innovation from blockbuster publishing house Pan Macmillan, was responding to issues raised in the Harrogate Advertiser’s Town Centre Survey.

Owner Georgia Duffy, a radiographer by profession who set up the shop on Parliament Street last year, said although the survey had thrown up many positive ideas for improving the town centre, the retail sector in Harrogate was being hit hard by costs.

She said: “I think there are some really wonderful ideas that have been generated for improving the town and I’d love to see many of them implemented such as more space for independent shops, parking changes, markets and pop-up shops especially.

“But a rebalancing of the huge difference in costs of running a business online versus the town centre is what we really need as this would benefit high streets shops hugely.”

As a small independent, Imagined Things found itself in the national news after a tweet saying it had taken just £12.34 during a quiet day in the summer went viral.

Since then, Harrogate book lovers have rallied behind the shop while published authors across the UK have hailed Georgia as a literary hero.

She said: “Pressure to lower rents would help in a significant way, as would a reform to business rates nationally.

“Smaller businesses could then more readily afford to move into bigger and more prominenet units.

“A short term solution might be to encourage landlords to let empty units on a short-term “enterprise” basis to allow people to try out new business ideas without the risks associated with taking out long lease.”

Despite challenging times, the shop’s passionate owner recently launched its Little Dragons reading scheme for youngsters in Harrogate schools aged three to eight.

Last week it won the Macmillan Independent Innovation Award for the North of England with a prize of £1,750 for the free books project.

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