Shop Independent in Urmston

Black Friday has arrived in the UK, bringing scenes of near-riot as ardent consumers flood into supermarkets in furious mobs,  knocking each other to the floor in the dash for a ‘bargain’.  Black Friday is a marketing construct: shops in the US offer big discounts on the day after Thanksgiving. This lends a tint of irony to the shocking behaviour of many Black Friday shoppers: give thanks one day; trample on your fellow shoppers the next.  We live in interesting times.

There was tough competition for a discounted television at Tesco in Stretford.

Buy Nothing Day falls on the last Saturday of November.

You don’t get any of that nonsense with independent shops: the prices are transparent and there’s zero chance of being caught up in a stampede in Mrs M Vintage.  There’s a cosy, laid-back feel to Christmas shopping in Urmston that cannot be replicated in the big behemoth malls, such as the Arndale and the Trafford Centre.  Nor will you find yourself gridlocked in traffic or squashed like a sardine on a tram, bus or tram.

Black Friday coincided this year with ‘Buy Nothing Day’.  Started by Adbusters back in the nineties, Buy Nothing Day challenges consumers to ‘switch off from shopping for a day’.  Visiting the campaign’s website, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the campaign is explicitly supportive of independent shops and businesses, because, as it says, “local shops act as a community hub and must be preserved because for every £1 spent in an independent shop – fifty pence goes back into the local economy. For every £1 spent at a supermarket only five pence goes back into the local community.

Most of us can’t or won’t ‘buy nothing’, however a quiet majority is growing ever more disengaged with the voracious pit of consumerism our festive season has become.  It seems that there is almost no time for actual celebration because the choosing, buying, wrapping and distributing of gifts has taken over the whole season.  Gifts for our family, our friends, our neighbours, our childrens’ teachers, our colleagues, our acquaintances, our local lolly pop ladies and our car valeters. There’s barely time to go to work in the month of December and no time at all for the quiet reflection and slowing down that nature calls for in the darkest season.

Times are hard, economically, and some claim that Black Friday represents an opportunity for the cash-strapped to obtain much-needed material goods.  This argument would hold more water if all the goods that were being fought over were not things that nobody needs (huge tellies, iPads, that sort of thing).  In any case, if you’re genuinely cash-strapped, a £189 television does not represent a good use of your money.  Black Friday enables big retailers to whip up a frenzy among consumers which, they hope, won’t die down until Christmas Eve.  Whether the bargains are genuine is questionable: the Guardian recently reported that many retailers put Christmas goods on the shelves at ‘full price’ in August (when no one will buy them) in order to reduce the price and promote them as bargains closer to Christmas.

Shopping locally with independent retailers automatically makes you part of a community’s beating heart; an economic champion of this little town.  It keeps more money in the local economy and thriving independent shops help keep house prices buoyant. Take a look at our A-Z of Independent Businesses in Urmston (and please let me know if you would like me to list your business).

Some links to previous posts about Christmas gift shopping in Urmston:

Independent Christmas Direct for Urmston

Last Minute Christmas in Urmston

 

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Life is Sweet in Urmston: Candy Stripes Sweet Shop on Flixton Road

Sandra the sweet lady from Candy Stripes sweet shop.

Sandra the sweet lady from Candy Stripes sweet shop.

This is Sandra from Candy Stripes Sweet Shop, which recently opened on Flixton Road, Urmston.  Sandra traded from Urmston Market for a long time but took the decision to open her own shop due to demand from customers.

Sandra’s lovely little shop is situated just a stone’s throw from the wool shop (HMK Wools) and more or less opposite Nikki and Co.  As you can see, she stocks a huge range – the above photo is only a fraction of the sugary treats crammed onto Candy Stripe‘s shelves.

Just a fraction of the range at Candy Stripes Sweet Shop on Flixton Road, Urmston.

Just a fraction of the range at Candy Stripes Sweet Shop on Flixton Road, Urmston.

As well as jarred sweets, Candy Stripes boasts a pick’n’mic section and a slush puppy machine.  Sandra also stocks diabetic-friendly sugar-free sweets and chocolate and most of her sweets are vegetarian.

Candy Stripes Sweets recently moved from Urmston Market to a permanent shop on Flixton Road.

Candy Stripes Sweets recently moved from Urmston Market to a permanent shop on Flixton Road.

Small towns thrive when small, specialist shops like Candy Stripes Sweet Shop are supported by the local community, so pop in next time you’re passing or make a special trip and treat yourself to something sweet.

Last Minute Christmas from Independent Urmston

There are only a few days left to get your Christmas fripperies from Urmston’s independent businesses.    From Station Road to Church Road, from the market to Flixton Road you can find some lovely things and support your local economy.

I’ve previously posted about some gift opportunities, but here are a few things I’ve spotted in the past few days:

Free!

Frances in the bookshop has prepared some lovely snacks for hungry reindeer.  Get down there and get yours now.

Free reindeer food from Urmston Bookshop on Flixton Road.

Free reindeer food from Urmston Bookshop on Flixton Road.

Cheap as chips

Traditional Scottish tablet from Candy Stripes sweet shop on Flixton Road.  Why not buy some for Hogmanay?

Traditional Scottish tablet from Candy Stripes sweet shop on Flixton Road. Why not buy some for Hogmanay?

After you pick up your free reindeer food you can trot over the road to Candy Stripes, the newly-opened sweet shop on Flixton Road.  Sandra has many sweet treats and Christmas indulgences for you.

Pear drops from Candy Stripes sweet shop on Flixton Rd.  The vintage Santa is from Mrs M Vintage, just across the road.

Pear drops from Candy Stripes sweet shop on Flixton Rd. The vintage Santa is from Mrs M Vintage, just across the road.

Say it with flowers

I got some last minute flowers from the market; there is also Floribunda on Flixton Road.  While I was there I got two jars of jam – mulled wine and pink champagne.

Flowers from Urmston Market.

Flowers from Urmston Market.

Costly but covetable

This limited edition bike costs £300 from Eddie McGrath on Station Road.

This limited edition bike costs £300 from Eddie McGrath on Station Road.

At £300 this bike is no stocking filler but it’s a limited edition design classic commemorating 70 years of the Beano.  Get it from Eddie McGrath Cycles on Station Road.

Finally, all that remains is for me to wish all the readers of this blog a very festive winter break and a Happy New Year when it comes.  Thank you for reading this blog in 2013 and please carry on in 2014.

Independent Christmas, Direct from Urmston

Can Urmston’s independent businesses supply everything you need for merriment and marvellousness this Christmas?  Yes indeed they can!

Christmas cuteness from Mrs M Vintage on Flixton Rd.

Christmas cuteness from Mrs M Vintage on Flixton Rd.


Forget battling the thronging masses at the Traffic Centre: supporting 
independent businesses in Urmston can put the fun back into your festive gift hunt.  Read on for the low-down on Christmas gifts, decorations and and festive trimmings from around Urmston.

Cards and Decorations

Card World on Crofts Bank Road has a keenly-priced range of quality cards and gift-wrap.  As well as multi-packs, they stock ‘Merry Christmas from Urmston’ and a range of religious cards.

Christmas tree bunting from Belle Amour Home on Urmston Market

Christmas tree bunting from Belle Amour Home on Urmston Market

Next, decorations.  I got three metres of charming, Christmas tree bunting from Belle Amour Home on Urmston Market for £8.  Mrs M Vintage has some beautiful, 1950s original baubles and some other vintage-style decorations.

The haberdashery stall on 
Urmston Market has some lovely Christmas ribbons and trimmings for wrapping and decoration.

Gifts

Here is the news just in from the North Pole: women don’t want to receive a loganberry and courgette foot scrub any more than men want an over-packaged box of ‘golf lovers’/ car lovers’/ garden lover’s’ mugs, flannels or other random items that might as well be labelled ‘nobody wants this’.  It’s not difficult to find quirky, beautiful gifts in Urmston’s independent shops.

This Love Urmston print by Jocelyn Wright is available at Urmston Bookshop.

Local designer Jocelyn Wright supplies some beautiful prints  – her Love Urmston print (above) is a must for the stylish Urmstonite.  You can buy from her website or from Urmston Bookshop.

Speaking of Urmston Bookshop, it was from this very lovely shop that writer, campaigner and darling of the Davyhulme set Jayne Dillon launched her debut book: Jessi-cat: the Cat that Unlocked a Young Boy’s Heart.  Jayne describes how her fabulous cat helped her young son begin to overcome selective mutism, won the Cats Protection League Cat of the Year award and went on to achieve global media recognition.  The book was published in August, quickly appeared on the Sunday Times Bestsellers List and since then has been translated into many languages.

I should mention that I am biased because I am mentioned by name in the book and I am also a personal friend of the author.  No matter: it’s a great book with an charmingly heart-warming tale and I recommend Jayne as a writer AND a friend (you can follow her on Twitter if you want to give that a go).  Books make fantastic Christmas gifts and buying a local author’s book at your independent bookshop is a nice way to support the local economy.

Six is an Independent boutique on Station Road.

Buy stylish Christmas gifts and clothing at Six.

Other great places to buy gifts are Mrs M Vintage, Six, Woodaloo and Top Marks on Moorside Road.  For stocking fillers, why not fill a jar of sweets at Candy Stripes or buy some of their cute Christmas-themed sweetie gift bags?  A colourful plant from Floribunda or Parker’s Garden Centre makes a nice gift for a neighbour.

Experience,  Learning and Mollycoddling Gifts

Image

Buy gift vouchers for everything from manicures to matrix reimprinting at Salon Pierre.

This type of gift is generally well-received because it gives the recipient something they will actually use, supports the local economy and has a lower environmental footprint than the usual plastic-packaged bin-fodder offered by big chains.

Many local beauty salons offer seasonal
gift vouchers.  One example is Salon Pierre on Moorside Road, which is offering some fabulous bargains, from discounted eyelash extensions (yes, gentlemen, this is a real thing) to great deals on block bookings for facials.  You can get everything from a manicure to matrix reimprinting at Salon Pierre!  Ring salon owner Sharon Pierre on 0161 748 1213 she can advise you on what’s best to buy.

LAMs driving school offer Christmas gift vouchers for driving lessons, as do many other driving schools.  This is an excellent gift because learning to drive can be life-changing.

Photo courtesy of Marie's Bakehouse.

Photo courtesy of Marie’s Bakehouse.

Marie’s Bakehouse runs wildly popular cake baking and decorating classes, which range from modelling a mermaid cake to cupcake masterclasses.  I shall be posting full dates for Marie’s classes at a later date, but a good one to book as a Christmas gift would be the adult beginner’s cupcake class on Monday, 20th January at 7.30-9.30pm (£30 a head).  Classes can be booked through Marie’s website.

Cakes and other indulgences

We have more cake makers than bus stops in Urmston.  I cannot recommend any of them as I only ever eat lettuce, but you can find some of them on the Urmston Independents A-Z (and I’ll happily add any who care to contact me with their details).

Urmston Market’s Christmas Market on Saturday, 14th December promises to offer many foodie treats for hungry shoppers.

Christmas Cuppas

Judging by the proliferation of independent cafes, if there’s one thing Urmston folk enjoy, it’s a nice cuppa (that and getting their nails done).  Lily’s at Eden Square has really pushed the festive boat out with lavish decorations and a menu of Christmassy specials.  You can also enjoy a relaxing break from Christmas shopping in the Garden Cafe, Appleby’s, or in Lily’s on Flixton Road, to name just a few.

Dressing for the season

What about all those Christmas parties?  If you’re a lover of luxe fashion on a budget, check out Scarlett’s Bazaar on Church Road, opposite Affordable Fancy Dress.  This little boutique offers an Aladdin’s cave of pre-loved designer, modern and vintage clothing and accessories at surprisingly low prices. You can also enlarge your repertoire of winter chic at Six on Station Road.  For party shoes or winter boots for those post-Christmas dinner strolls, visit Shoetique, on Railway Rd.  The Glass Slipper is sadly no longer open: use it or lose it!  For little ones, Budget Baby Boutique on Urmston Market is selling the cutest elf outfits and Santa suits for babies.

It is absolutely possible to buy all your Christmas presents from Urmston’s independent traders: there is nowhere better to buy unique, thoughtful, even quirky Christmas gifts than right here in Urmston.  I cannot cover everything that is available and if you have any Urmston gift tips, please post a comment.

Acknowledgements
Love Urmston print is published here courtesy of Jocelyn Wright.
Photo of Mrs M Vintage’s Christmas window published here courtesy of Mrs M Vintage.

Woodsend Circle Redevelopment

Woodsend Circle is being redeveloped.

Just a quick post about the proposed redevelopment of Woodsend Circle.  I don’t go up there very often but there is quite a nice collection of small shops such as the Majic Roundabout and Rosie’s Cafe.  Mutterings of redevelopment have rumbled on for several years but firm plans have now been drawn up and a “drop-in event” with LSP Developments will take place next week on Tuesday, 6th August.

You can read more about the drop-in event here on the Messenger website.  There have been complaints that the plans for Woodsend Circle redevelopment are rather unimaginative: a replica in miniature of the approach taken in Eden Square.  Some say that the land is being sold off, local traders will be priced out of business by sky-high rents and a small Sainsbury’s is being wheeled in to hoover up local custom.

There is concern that this approach is to be focused on maximum profit for big businesses and there’s little recognition of the role played by small retailers in local history.

It’s as if the whole of Urmston is being reimagined as an investment scheme for big chains – a terrible shame, if this viewpoint is correct.

Independent Urmston: a Recent History Lesson

Cowering in the long shadow cast by the mighty Intu Trafford Centre, Urmston is a small town besieged by big business and internationally franchised companies.  The past fifteen years have been grim for many independent businesses in Urmston: increasingly hemmed in by supermarkets and giant shopping malls and squeezed by the rapid expansion of the online retail sector and the country’s economic freefall, many have gone to the wall or simply given up.

Lots of independent traders have been forced to close.

Lots of independent traders have been forced to close.

In the last year alone we’ve lost an old fashioned sweet shop, the beautiful gift emporium that was Lily’s Boutique and more than one restaurant or bar.

More than ten years ago, consultation began to decide what was to be done about Urmston‘s ageing concrete precinct which was struggling to cope with the consumer rush towards swish new developments such as the Intu Trafford Centre and the giant Asda in Trafford Park.  At that time the precinct had a small Somerfield supermarket and lots of independent traders such as the stationers Urmstat, jewellers and clothing boutiques, mixed with a couple of chains such as the More Store, Farm Foods and, round the corner, Poundstretcher and What Everyone Wants.

Asked to choose from a range of options, the public voted for Ask Developments to forge ahead with their Eden Square development in the heart of Urmston.  A mix of big high street names (remember the mock up photos of the development, featuring ‘Top Stop’?) and independent trading outlets was expected but just as work began, in April 2008, the world economic crisis rained fiscal devastation on Ask’s plans and the project was delayed and extended time and again.

With Urmston’s town centre car parks out of use to make way for the demolition and redevelopment of the precinct, independent traders on the market and elsewhere (Crofts Bank Road, Flixton Road,Station Road and others) struggled to stay open.  The market has never really recovered from this period of near- inactivity and today many of its stalls stand empty.  Tough times.

Finally, in 2009, the first phase of the development saw the opening of a larger-than-expected Sainsbury’s supermarket, a new public library, shopper’s car park and Boots.  Sainsbury’s took the controversial decision to open a cafe and to sell clothing, striking somewhat of a blow against small independents such as Lily’s coffee lounge and the Clothing Station (now closed).

Flixton Road was particularly affected by the extended redevelopment of Urmston town centre: having struggled through the long years of massively reduced car parking, many traders were dismayed when the new development and car parking arrangements drove people towards Eden Square and away from their businesses.  To take just one example, since King Spot moved out, Firedragon Crafts, Okid Oki and Halle May’s boutique have all rented then vacated the unit at 86 Flixton Road (Halle May’s still exists as an online shop).

The building work is complete in Eden Square but some units remain empty and anecdotal evidence suggests that rents are far higher than would normally be achievable for an independent trader or a start-up business (there are exceptions: Hair Defnition Studios and Lily’s at Eden Square).  The Eden Square development itself is pleasant enough, but lacks the character one would find in a high street that has grown organically over time, instead of being ‘developmentally managed’.  Local people often comment that Eden Square’s sparse group of identical trees lacks the green lushness the name conjures up …

Oliver's Hot and Cold Food recently opened on Grosvenor Rd.

Oliver’s Hot and Cold Food recently opened on Grosvenor Rd.Lil

But like dandelions in an urban space, new businesses spring up all the time in Urmston (Fouette, the dancewear shop, the Glass Slipper shoe boutique and Lily’s at Eden Square come to mind, but there are many more independent businesses freshly unwrapped in Urmston – please contact us or comment below if there are any you would like to see on this website).  This website aims to support those businesses and to celebrate what sets them apart from bigger corporate affairs.  It’s free and it always will be.  Please spread the word and let others know about Urmston Independents.

All About Urmston

Independent Urmston

Urmston
The Urmston clock stands proud on Flixton Road.

Urmston is a small market town on the fringes of the great metropolis of Mancunia.  Despite the towering presence of the Trafford Centre just a ten minute drive away, Urmston offers an eclectic mix of independent businesses – from gift shops (such as Attiques, in the covered market) and card shops (we like Card World on Crofts Bank Road) to pre-loved vintage clothing boutiques (such as Scarlett’s Bazaar on Church Road) and fancy dress emporia (Bon Fabrics at Davyhulme Circle or Affordable Fancy Dress on Church Road) .

Beautiful books, quirky gifts and toys at Urmston Bookshop.
Beautiful books, quirky gifts and toys at Urmston Bookshop.

A quest for a beautifully designed book or a pretty eco-toy should lead you along Flixton Road to Urmston Bookshop, where Frances and Peter run all manner of exciting craft-and-creativity themed events, as well as hosting book groups and author signings.  While you’re on Flixton Road, you can pick up some wool across the road at HMK Wools or get a key cut  by the (shh!) magic elves that run Wizard Shoe Repairs.

Do your ugly sisters leave you weeping in the cinders every Saturday night?  Then take a trip in your pumpkin coach to the Glass Slipper on Station Road, where the lovely shoe-fairy godmothers will ensure you shall go to the ball!  If it’s help with a carpentry project or DIY supplies you crave,  Chesworths DIY is one of Urmston’s hidden gems; an old-fashioned  timber merchant and supplier of DIY materials  a stone’s throw from Urmston town centre on Gloucester Road.

There’s more to Urmston than excellent independent shops, services and eateries, though: we also have a tweeting treeparks a-plenty and our very own town clock, recently restored after an unexplained absence of several years.

Contact Urmston Independents via email at urmstonindependents@hotmail.com.