NDEPENDENT businesses in Bradford city centre are calling on shoppers to show them a little extra love this weekend as the city celebrates Independents’ Day UK.
The annual event – which takes place on Saturday and Sunday, July 2 and 3 this year – was set up to support and promote those traders who are not affiliated to chains, big brands or franchises and to protect diversity on our high streets.
There are more than 85 independent businesses in the city centre offering a huge range of services, from Angela’s Nails to Airobounce, from Bread & Roses to Buzz Mobile, from Fish Dish to Freddie’s, from Jannan Fragrances to Jinnah Restaurant, from Sally Brown’s to Sing Kee Oriental Supermarket.
The initiative is being supported by Bradford Business Improvement District (BID), the limited not-for-profit company funded by more than 600 levy-paying businesses and organisations to help promote and develop the city centre.
Nikki Chadburn, the BID’s business engagement officer, said: “We all want diversity and a choice of products and services on our high streets and independents give our shopping areas character and a tradition of friendly service.
“Independents make up almost two thirds of all retail outlets across the country but they are under more pressure than ever before, especially with the current cost of living situation.
“They don’t have the economies of scale that the big chains have so they are facing an even more difficult fight to survive as customers count the pennies.
“The Independents’ Day campaign is all about showing just how much those businesses mean to us by giving them a bit of extra support on this special weekend, seeking them out and supporting them even if it means calling in to places you’ve never visited before.
“Why not try a coffee and cake in a different café, popping in to a bar you’ve never been in, having your nails done or buying some flowers somewhere new? You’re guaranteed a warm welcome wherever you go in Bradford city centre!”
Independent businesses say their success is vital to developing variety in the city centre and helping it to grow.
Hummad llyas, co-founder/owner of Huma Humad Ltd, in Eastbrook Hall, on Leeds Road, said: “Supporting independent businesses is so important as it helps the city and the economy to grow.
“The pandemic threw us a massive curve ball but business is steady and coming up. Be sure to come down this weekend as we have an Eid promotion currently in store.”
Funzy, in the Leisure Exchange, is Yorkshire’s first indoor inflatable theme park. Manager Hisham Siraj said business has been recovering well since Covid-19: “Business is going well, we’ve had loads of growth since covid, and it’s really heading in a positive direction. We’re launching a series of themed parties, new introductions to the menu like pizza and there’s a lot coming up for summer so keep an eye out.
“The vision of Funzy is to put a smile on people’s faces, instead of a money-making culture. We sell happiness – that’s why you should come to visit us!”
Pizza Pieces’ owner Antonio Barbiero also said keeping customers happy was the key.
‘We have a wide range of customers who are loyal; I’ve never had to promote my business it’s all been word of mouth,” he said. “We’re more than a business – we’re a family business.
“We give our customers jokes and happiness. I can’t ask for more: we are always busy, and I’ve learnt so much over the course of the business from the 2008 recession to Covid but I like to keep a limited menu and always deliver.
“For Indie Day we have a brought our pizza meal back down to the original price of £5.50, you can find this offer on the LoyalFree app.”
The Great Victoria Hotel, in Bridge Street, says things are going well in terms of the big part it plays in the business community but it needs customers to keep getting behind it.
“Running an independent business is hard, especially in this day and age, we need ongoing customer support,” said sales office manager Asma Bibi. “Business is going well, we’ve seen a big increase these past few weeks, and the city blooming. Make sure you have a look out for our wedding open day on September 25 and Wedding Fayre on October 9.”
Some retailers, are still having a tough time of it. Ann Fawcett, owner of Blooms on Market Street, said: “Business is very slow at the moment, we need people to start using the city again, they need to walk around the city centre and see what shops are open as fewer people are not working in town after being furloughed.”
She is confident, though, that quality of service and a genuine interest in their customers will win out: “People don’t realise how much customers mean to independent businesses, you get more of a one-to-one experience and care than with a multi-national. Do come down and visit us, and don’t miss our monthly floristry class (the next is on July 28), where can create your own design to take home.”
James Brunskill, owner of Boar and Fable, on North Parade, believes the secret to winning local customers is local produce.
“Everything we buy is independent, all of our beer is locally made,” he said: “That’s our philosophy – to buy local, and our beer is really good!
“Business is going good, the more people find us, the more people stay. Make sure you come down and check us out. We always push live grassroots musicians every Sunday at 6pm; keep an eye out on Bradford’s gig list to see what’s coming up.”