Harrogate independents have flagged what they believe needs to be done to help locals ‘fall back in love’ with the centre of the town.The Advertiser’s Love Your High Street campaign, originally launched in October in the run up to Christmas, this week draws to a close. Interviewing businesses from across the centre of Harrogate we aimed to showcase our unique range of independent businesses, from the ‘hidden gems’ to the Harrogate institutions.
Returning to Commercial Street’s Crown Jewellers Of Harrogate, which Sue and Stephen Kramer have run for almost 18 years, it was made clear how important shining a light on our traders can be.She said: “I think it has definitely increased awareness of independents and the brilliant shopping areas we have in the town. It’s vital they get that attention. I think people can forget, and get out of the habit of coming into town, if you have something like the campaign, reminding them of what they are missing you can see it’s needed and is very much appreciated by us.”Like many businesses interviewed over the course of LYHS, Sue added that to draw visitors to the centre parking charges must change.
She said: “It’s only 70 pence here but it does put people off parking. We need to offer incentives to get the locals back into town and make it worth their while.“The reason your campaign is so fantastic is that it’s aimed at locals and getting them back. That’s really important, people can focus on the visitor economy, which is equally as important, but we need locals to fall back in love with Harrogate, and supporting independents.”
It’s been all the more important in the build up to Christmas, says Pam Lewis of Cold Bath Road’s Tilly Peppers. While its position at the centre of the community has kept the cafe busy, trade in the centre has been slow.She said: “We have been very lucky and it’s been quite a good time, but footfall has not been very good this year in the centre of town.“I think the weather has not helped, it can put people off from coming and shopping online instead when it’s miserable. It can make people think twice, but I think the main thing that needs to be done is looking at parking fees, especially on a Sunday.
“It’s greedy and discourages people from coming into the centre of town, and people are instead going outside the area where it’s free.”She added: “I think more than ever with things like Brexit, everyone is a little bit worried about money. Campaigns like this are fantastic at getting people to be more aware of what is in their towns and it brings to the forefront that they need the support of local customers.”
Tucked away in the architecturally beautiful Westminster Arcade, Georgia Duffy, owner of a bookstore, said that while also concerned over parking charges the opportunities offered through the Harrogate Business Improvement District could help bolster the town.She said: “I think that parking is one of the biggest things where something could be done, and the council is in control of that. “People talk about rents and rates but they don’t really have much control. “It’s something that could be achieved here, and Sundays were free not that long ago.”
She added: “With BID, there’s loads of areas they could work on, parking, cleanliness and helping to promote the town, the list is endless and I am sure they have so many ideas. I think it will be a really great thing for the town.“It at least gives us more of a centre, instead of us all sat separately there will be a team working together to take the steps needed.