How to survive after a nuclear war in Urmston

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Homewares on Flixton Road, Urmston

If ever you survive a nuclear explosion in the environs of Urmston, when finally you stumble from your bunker, screwing your eyes up against the weak rays of a dying and forgotten sun, I do recommend you make your way calmly to Homewares on Church Road, taking care to avoid scattered debris en route.

The shop is known locally by various names (e.g. Bill’s) and in fairness, this is not just a homewares shop: you could also call it an ironmonger’s, a hardware store or a tool shop.  Whatever you ask for, they have it in that shop.  Nails, screws and thingummybobs?  Yep, they have have it.  Candles, barbecues or golf balls?  No problem.  Cat food, bedding plants or scary-looking tools?  Homewares has it all and it’s all cheaper than you think it will be.

I suspect they have done something fancy with the space-time continuum in their back room because although the shop doesn’t look very big from outside they seem to have EVERYTHING you can’t find elsewhere.

Read a review of Homewares.

Homewares’ owners are looking to retire and are planning to sell the shop; hopefully someone just as helpful will take over and carry on offering thingummybobs, doodas and utilitarian handy stuff for many years to come.

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Shrove Tuesday in Urmston

Shrove Tuesday is coming up on March 4th.  Pancakes are feel-good food; an easily concocted sliver of lovely, sugary stodge that come with the added bonus of being flippable.  We may not rival New Orleans’ Mardi Gras but here in Urmston we don’t do too badly on everyone’s favourite Tuesday.

Gloucester Road boasts its very own Pancake Corner, where you can gorge yourself on at least twenty different fillings.  Mama Maria’s on Flixton Road are offering free pancakes (with a main course) but if you feel like trying something a wee bit different visit Lily’s at Eden for a taste of these delightfully special cakes from Sugar Bun Sisters.

Pancake-Cupcakes: chocolate with Nutella and a Vanilla with lemon - on sale in Lily's at Eden.

Pancake-Cupcakes: chocolate with Nutella and a Vanilla with lemon – on sale in Lily’s at Eden.

These lavishly iced cupcakes are topped with the cutest mini pancakes. Choose (Choose? How is this possible?) between chocolate with Nutella or vanilla with lemon.

Other Urmston independents serving freshly flipped pancakes on the day include Darby’s on Flixton Road.

If you run an independent cafe in Urmston and you’d like to be included in this post, please get in touch.  I try to include as many Urmston indpendents and any that are left out are not deliberately excluded.  This website is for all independent Urmston businesses and is completely free.

Urmston Comedy Club

Laugh at Urmston Comedy Club.

Laugh at Urmston Comedy Club.

UPDATE (26th February): The unfortunate news has reached us that the Urmston Comedy Club is no more and that tomorrow night’s gig is CANCELLED.

The Urmston Comedy Club is back at the Grill at 27, with a fabulous line-up this coming Thursday (27th February).  Headlining is the “flamboyant and fabulous” Jonathan Mayor.  Urmston Comedy Club says:

“As a headline act, Jonathan sets the stage alight with his razor sharp audience banter and stunning charisma. But don’t be fooled by the glitter and glamour, underneath lies an intelligent line of socio-political humour, from a unique and fascinating perspective.  He will reduce any audience to hysterics.”

Opening the show is the “fantastically funny” Hayley Ellis, and the evening is MC’d by the “wonderful” Jay Hampson.

The Grill at 27 is offering pre-show discounts for food if you mention the Comedy Club when you book your table.
There is a warning that there may be some strong language and that acts may be subject to change.
The evening costs £7.00 plus a 70p booking charge when you book online.

Craft and Vintage at Urmston Market – What to Expect

Urmston Market’s Craft and Vintage event this Saturday (22nd February) promises dozens of stalls brim full  of fresh, home made food, handmade crafts and unique vintage pieces, as well as all the regular, useful stalls.  Here is a rundown of some of the stalls taking part in the event.

Photo courtesy of Buckley and Blythe.

Photo courtesy of Buckley and Blythe.

Buckley and Blythe – Embroidery hoop wall art using a mix of vintage and modern fabrics, hand and machine embroidery, vintage buttons and lace.

Barnes' fruit stall has been on Urmston Market for three generations.

Barnes’ fruit stall has been on Urmston Market for three generations.

Barnes’ fruit and vegetables – the Barnes family have been selling fresh fruit and vegetables on Urmston Market for three generations.

Photo courtesy of Moorish Baking.

Photo courtesy of Moorish Baking.

Mooreish Baking – delicious cupcakes, brownies and other baked goods.

Do Well Picture Framing has been on Urmston Market for six years.

Do Well Picture Framing has been on Urmston Market for six years.

Do Well Picture Framing – expert framing, keenly priced.

Image courtesy of Pat & Peg.

Image courtesy of Pat & Peg.

Image courtesy of Pat & Peg.

Image courtesy of Pat & Peg.

Pat and Peg – Handmade bags and jewellery from British designers.

Photo courtesy of Mrs M Vintage.

Photo courtesy of Mrs M Vintage.

Mrs M Vintage – eclectic vintage discoveries – satellite stall from Mrs M’s shop on Flixton Road.

Photo courtesy of Sweetie Trees by Carol.

Photo courtesy of Sweetie Trees by Carol.

Sweetie Trees by Carol – sweetie trees, bagged sweets and pick ‘n’ mix.

Photo courtesy of No Retro.

Photo courtesy of No Retro.

No retro – Super quality, new & unique designer clothing at second hand prices.

Budget Baby Boutique – pre-loved  baby clothing in pristine condition.

Photo courtesy of Molly's Tree House Dolls.

Photo courtesy of Molly’s Tree House Dolls.

Molly’s Tree House Dolls – Hand made with love, Waldorf style dolls, each individually crafted with 100% natural fabrics, stuffed with Yorkshire wool and a sprinkling of magic.

May the force be with Steve's DVDs (and more) on Urmston Market.

May the force be with Steve’s DVDs (and more) on Urmston Market.

Steve’s DVDs – The force is strong with Steve’s (mostly sci-fi) DVDs and board games.

There are plans to make the Vintage and Craft Market a monthly event, so please do visit and support it.  Urmston Market runs every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.  Stalls cost just £12 per day –  get in touch with them to book.

Follow Urmston Market on Facebook

Follow Urmston Market on Twitter

Calling for an independent retail revolution #indieretail by @AnnectoUK

This optimistic post explains how independent retailers will always have an advantage over the big guys.

Independent Retail

January has brought some bad news for the big boys of the retail world… Retail giants including Tesco, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer reported a fall in sales over the crucial Christmas trading period – news that should encourage independent small businesses across the UK to up the ante and focus harder on how they can win over the consumer.

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Setting up your own business? Some points to consider

Working for yourself is empowering and stressful and kind of exhilarating.  Once you have tried it, you probably won’t ever want to go back to working for someone else.  But self-employment is no game: a bad day at work can cost you money; a series of bad days can threaten the roof over your head.  So before you go ahead and set up your dream business, there are a few points to consider.  Some of them are listed below:

1.  It’s not about what you want to do

Do what you love - but don't expect to make a business out of it.

Do what you love – but don’t expect to make a business out of it.

Let’s suppose you enjoy building matchstick models.  Everyone says how lovely your models are.  You give some away as gifts and people are delighted to display them.  They rave about them. You spend hours and hours on your matchstick models, so much so that you decide you want to follow your passion and use your talents to start up a small business selling them.  This is the number one error made by business start-ups.  Very few people can make a living from something that was once their hobby.  It really doesn’t matter how talented you are or how beautiful your matchstick models are, nor how many thousands of followers you have on social networking sites.  If there isn’t a demand for what you are selling, you won’t be able to make a business out of it.  On the other hand, if you don’t enjoy your area of business you won’t be able to make a success of it.  Do what you enjoy: but only if it’s a viable business.  This brings me to my next point:

2.  Do you need to run your business part-time or full-time?

Don't give up your day job to sell crocheted owls.

Don’t give up your day job to sell crocheted owls.

All businesses take time to build up so it sometimes makes sense to carry on with your ‘day job’ if you can.  This doesn’t apply to businesses such as cafes and shops, which really need to be open at times when people expect shops to open (Monday – Saturday from 9am – 5pm, as a general rule).

3.  Staffing is a huge luxury

At the inception of your business it is imperative that you do as much as you possibly can yourself.  This is partly because nobody will ever understand (or care about) your vision quite like you do and partly because staffing is expensive.  If you want good, reliable staff you need to pay them properly – and that’s a moral AND fiscal imperative.  Starting your own business always, always costs more than you think and every penny in wages comes out of your turnover.  You probably can’t afford to employ staff in the beginning.

4.  You have a new boss

You can win at running your own business - but only if you plan carefully.

You can win at running your own business – but only if you plan carefully.

The biggest revelation about self-employment is that you now work for … your customers.  Your customers are not like a boss; they don’t need to follow employment law or company guidelines.  If they don’t like your product or service or disagree with your prices, they can go elsewhere.  They’re not obliged to be polite to you or reasonable in any way.  This means that the ability to build a good relationship with your customers is very important.  Are you a people person?  You’d better be!

5.  You won’t make a profit for at least a year

Your business will not make a profit for at least a year.  Many businesses do not make a profit for two years or more.  Some never make a profit.  Turnover (the money that comes into your business) is completely different from profit (the money that is left over when you have paid your running/ manufacturing/ making costs).  You need to know this before you start out.

6.  Location can decide the success or failure of your business

Location may be key to the success of your business.

Location may be key to the success of your business.

Location is absolutely key.  First, consider whether you need premises.  Premises are a good idea if you need passing trade or if you need customers to come and see your goods or talk about your services.  Your matchstick models do not need shop premises.  Instead you could find shops that might want to stock them, sell them at craft fairs or at Urmston Market or sell online.  Online selling, by the way, is not an easy option and often requires considerable investment.

If you do need premises, try and make sure they are as visible as possible.  My own business is on Urmston’s main crossroads.  Thousands of cars and passersby see our signage every day. Avoid deserted side streets and take a good look at several properties before you rent.  Avoid being tied in to a lease for years on end.  Remember point number one above: it’s not about what you want, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve found a great location because it’s very close to your house.  You need a location with great footfall and close to other businesses that are thriving.

You don’t need a MBA to start your own little business but you do need to consider whether your business is viable, whether you can afford to strike out on your own and whether you’d even enjoy it.  I have been running my own business for close to six years.  I am uniquely qualified to advise on starting your own business because I run one of the most successful independent tuition centres in the country AND one pretty unsuccessful baby clothes business, so I do know the pitfall and the peaks of running one’s own business.  I hope to work mainly for myself for the rest of my career, but it’s not for everyone.  Is it for you?