Smaller businesses at a shopping centre are helping to fly the flag for independent stores.
The outlets at Eagles Meadow in Wrexham are backing the UK Independents’ Day campaign on July 4 to help local businesses to prosper and grow, and boost town economies.
They say small businesses can offer great customer service, unique finds, investment in new technology and a better chance to negotiate discounts.
Research for the Federation of Small Businesses shows that of every £1 spent, up to 70p circulates back into the local economy, flowing from traders to suppliers and the people they depend on to run their companies.
Among those backing the initiative is Ragazzi, an independent designer menswear store based in Eagles Meadow.
Originally located on the outskirts of the town centre, Ragazzi moved to larger premises in the prestigious shopping centre in 2011. Over the years it has gained an enviable reputation for stocking the latest brands in men’s fashion.
Andrew Burson, managing director of the Ragazzi, said: “I think the fact that we’re an independent store means that we can develop a personal relationship with the customer. That means we can specialise and adapt to the local market. Brands like Lyle & Scott and Lacoste are popular in Wrexham so we focus a lot on them.”
Sharon Hughes, who used her life savings to open the Gozo Men hair and beauty salon at Eagles Meadow in the teeth of the recession in 2010.
The entrepreneurial mother-of-two, a former nurse, was fulfilling a lifelong ambition to run her own business which has become a real family success story with her daughter, Katie, becoming the company’s Style Director.
The salon has been incredibly successful since its fanfare opening. Sharon also now provides hair and beauty treatments for women alongside those she offers for the guys.
“It’s that personal touch that we offer and we listen to customer feedback. We’re asked if we can provide certain treatments.
“A lot of older guys are asking for a bit more colour in their hair. That’s really popular.
“We’ve also got guys coming getting their beards washed, dried, waxed and oiled.
“For the women we now offer a range of treatments, including semi-permanent eyebrows and eyelashes. They’re very popular. The eyelashes last five weeks and the eyebrows last four days.
“Makeup that contours the face has also become very popular. What it does is highlight the parts of your face that you want to emphasise. We’re very busy at the moment.
Gwyn Ingman, owner of Asian food shop TryThai is also urging the public to get behind Independents Day.
Gwyn gave up a secure job as a support worker for special needs children with the education authority to launch an Asian food shop with his Thai wife Jira, which is on St Georges Crescent in the Eagles Meadow shopping centre, right next door to their TryThai Noodle Bar.
He said: “Being independent makes us flexible and nimble. We’re able to adapt to the needs of our customers and look for things they want. We’re also able to stock a wide range of products.”
Eagles Meadow shopping centre Manager Kevin Critchley is a fan of the Independents’ Day initiative.
He said: “Here at Eagles Meadow we’re very proud of the fact that we have a significant number of smaller independent businesses which make a huge contribution to the diversity and success of the shopping centre. We’ve also got large stores here as well as a big leisure offer so we really do have a great mix.
“We are giving our wholehearted support to Independents’ Day which I think is an excellent idea in that it raises awareness of the very important role that the independents play in punching above their weight to boost the local and national economy.”