Pop-up pilot for independent traders brings festive cheer to hard-hit Welsh town centre
A VIBRANT pop-up retail and advice hub for independent producers provided shoppers in a coastal town with plenty of Christmas cheer.
Love Live Local @ Rhyl has been home to artisan creators, food and drink makers and craft companies over past weeks.
A hit with customers in the White Rose Centre, the 3,000 sq ft unit – supported by Antur Cymru, Denbighshire County Council and the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns Coastal Communities Fund – has also been offering Business Wales support and guidance to the traders, who all hope to go on and have their own premises in the future.
Among them is Michelle Hughes, from Rhyl, whose Crafty Creations include festive gifts, wooden items, and monogrammed apparel.
“This project has been a breath of fresh air as we’ve been able to display our products in the centre but also have the space to make new items, which has been of interest to shoppers who want to see how it’s done,” she said.
“I have loved every minute, especially working alongside the producers and supporting each other. We were all based either at home or local units on industrial estates, so this has been a great opportunity to reach more people.”
The initiative runs until December 30 and is led by Project Manager Lowri Roberts; it was designed to garner interest among bespoke businesses ahead of the 2022 redevelopment of Rhyl’s Queen’s Market.
Nadine Holmes, from Prestatyn, is another to seize the opportunity, with her unique Green Beings range of ethically sourced sustainable gifts and home-grown plants.
“The support has been fantastic throughout, with many people keen to help small businesses and have a positive impact on the local economy,” said Nadine.
“Our products are recyclable and come from overseas – predominately Bali and India – with a portion of the proceeds going back to charitable organisations in those communities, so there is a story behind what we are doing and the chance to make a difference.
“Being here has been wonderful as we are all at a similar stage with our businesses and have received a lot of help and guidance, including our strategies, so it’s given me the confidence to go forward and take things to the next level.”
Words echoed by Natasha Field, from Rhyl, who began crafting in lockdown before launching Del Creations.
“To have a place we can make and sell our products is fantastic, because previously my house was full of bath bombs, wax melts, soaps, body butter and all of the things I’d created!” said Natasha.
“I had wanted to start a little business for me, and from there it’s grown to the point where I will take the leap and find premises locally.
“This has been a really important stepping-stone and made me believe I can do it because the feedback has been incredible, especially from those with sensitive skin who say these health and beauty items are unlike anything they’ve seen before.”
Other firms to have joined the space since opening include Flintshire-based Blooming Brownies and Ivy Bank Honey Bees, and popular Rhuddlan cake makers Royle Bakes, whose owner Debbie Rowley also used the pandemic to change direction and begin a new chapter in her life.
“People want to come in and meet the people behind the business, to see how things are made and have an experience you don’t get online,” said Debbie.
“We have all benefited from being here, especially the support of Lowri and Business Wales, so thank you to them and Antur Cymru. We certainly need to see more projects like this across the region, giving small businesses a voice, and the support they need to grow.”
Blooming Brownies added: “The shop has given us the opportunity to showcase our delicious brownies to a wider range of new customers and given us the chance to actively interact with them face to face as previously everything was via social media and our website.
“Thanks to everyone in Rhyl and the surrounding areas for their support, and to Lowri, Nick Palmer from Business Wales and the other agencies involved for making all of this possible for small businesses.”
Lowri is delighted Love Live Local @ Rhyl has had such a positive effect on participants in the project and hopes they will all go on to great success in the years ahead.
“We have achieved what we set out to do, but most importantly the project has allowed them to look at their business models, strategize and move forward with confidence,” she said.
“This is new framework for supporting small business, being able to test trade, whilst being supported through the fundamentals of business development, prior to investing in a retail space.
“We look forward to the next few weeks here and thank the community and shoppers for their support. We hope you have a fantastic Christmas and continue get behind your local businesses at a time when they really need you.”