Small Business Saturday 2014

small business saturday

It’s Small Business Saturday: please support small businesses wherever you find them.  There are hundreds of small businesses in Urmston, Flixton and Davyhulme.  Speaking as the owner of a small business, I know that, from candle makers to plumbers, none of these small businesses would exist without customers, including my own tuition centre.  

Using a small business is not an act of charity. It is quite wrong to assume that big chains are cheaper than small, independent traders.  Behind the marketing jargon, the deals offered by big corporate chains often represent a more expensive proposition than the more straightforward pricing of a smaller concern.  Why do we assume that big chains are cheaper?  Because they spend massive amounts of marketing money telling us their prices are fantastically low; small independent businesses can’t and don’t.  

As well as fairer prices, there is often more expertise in a small business; small businesses thrive on the passion of their owners and making money is not their main focus.  Personally, I don’t see education as a product I sell; I see it as a way to change young people’s lives forever.  Look at Mrs M, of Mrs M Vintage on Flixton Road: she’s not a corporate suit, working on her next ad campaign.  She just loves vintage and sells it because she wants to spread vintage joy.  How about Card World on Crofts Bank Road?  They have the biggest range of cards in Urmston and beyond – adoption cards, confirmation cards, sorry-I-forgot-to-get-you-a-Christmas-card – you name it, they sell it and that is because they really want to provide a card for all occasions.

If you want to support small businesses today and can’t make it out to the shops, why not tweet about them, like their Facebook business page or even write an online review for them (please only do this if you have used their service)?  Online recommendation is a powerful way to help small businesses, and what’s more, it really encourages independent traders when they see something lovely written about them – after all independent trading can feel a little lonely at times.

So today, Small Business Saturday 2014, please shop small and shop local: use our independent traders in Urmston and help our little town thrive.

An A-Z of independent businesses in Urmston:


Urmston Market at Christmas

Urmston Market's Christmas Fair takes place this Saturday.

Urmston Market’s Christmas Fair takes place this Saturday.

Along with raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens, Urmston Market’s Christmas Fair is one of my favourite things. This Saturday the market will be bursting with colourful, beautiful, useful things.  As well as festive food and drink, there will be finely-crafted giftware, wreaths and decorations (including large, pot-grown Christmas trees) and all the trimmings you need for Christmas.

Live music will provide an ambient yuletide vibe and the event poster promises ‘festive friends’, so if you do go down to Urmston Market’s Christmas fair, listen out for the jingling of bells and keep an eye on the sky …

Urmston Market is open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with an Artisan Special on the first Saturday of every month and and Vintage and Crafts market on the last Saturday of every month.  It’s a stone’s throw from Urmston train station and the bus stop (numbers 15, 22, 23, 255, 276, 278 and very probably some more).  You can park in Eden Square car park at M41 0NA if you’re driving.

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


Chesworths DIY and Timber Merchants: Urmston’s Independent Specialists Since 1936

Tucked away on Gloucester Road, Chesworth’s DIY and Timber Merchants is a perfect example of the top quality service customers can expect when dealing with an independent Urmston business.  You may assume Chesworths is a lot more expensive than the big chains such as B&Q or Homebase but the fact is that Chesworths’ prices are often lower, or low enough to be competitive when you factor in the price of petrol required to get to a big chain.

Chesworth’s DIY and Timber Merchants is conveniently located in Urmston Town Centre.

Friendly and welcoming

If, like me, you don’t know much about DIY you may sometimes feel intimidated by the atmosphere in some DIY stores or timber yards, but Chesworths has a friendly, welcoming feel and I’ve never felt daft for asking questions in there.Skilled, convenient service

Chesworths DIY and Timber Merchants stock most timber and sheet materials, which they will cut to size while you wait – a big selling point, in my opinion. This makes your DIY projects so much more manageable because you know your materials will be cut accurately.

Customers can purchase most timber sections in lengths per 30cm (0.3m,0.6m,0.9m etc., up to as long as 5.4m).  Sheet materials can be purchased either as full sheets – 2440mm x 1220mm – or as an individual cut piece charged to the nearest square inch.

Chesworths DIY on Gloucester Rd.

Chesworths DIY on Gloucester Rd.

Chesworths supply made to measure radiator cabinets as well as made to size garden gates and meter cupboards.  They also do standard 4mm clear window glass, cut to size from stock, or toughened/safety glass and double glazed units to order.   Made to measure kitchen/bedroom vinyl wrapped cupboard doors are available on a 14 day turn around.

Bespoke, environmentally-friendly DIY solutions

A bespoke cutting service is something that the big chains seldom offer – you generally buy the length they want to sell you, rather than the length you need.  By allowing the customer to buy the amount they need, Chesworth’s often works out cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the big chains, whose inflexible selling policies encourage waste.

Other products

Other keenly priced products from Chesworths include:- worktops, stairparts, decking, internal and external doors, decorative plastic tongue & groove wall/ceiling paneling, kichen units, laminate/engineered/solid flooring, door furniture, fixings, adhesives, timber mouldings, architraves/ skirtings, tools, varnish, oils, wax, preservatives, etc.  You can also buy paint from Chesworths primer, undercoat and white and black gloss, as well as fun little pots of chalkboard paint.

Chesworths literally go the extra mile

There’s something reassuringly old-fashioned about Chesworths: a family business with real concern for the customer.    This is the kind of independent business that has a relationship with the community it serves: they will even arrange a home visit to measure up. Try getting that level of customer service from the Chief Executive Officer of B&Q (Kevin O’Byrne, estimated earnings of £1.8m per annum – source)! 

Reiki Healing in Urmston – a guest post from Gabby Mottershead

Gabby Mottershead from Urmston is a Level 3 Reiki Healer (Master and Trainer). From Monday 17th March she has been offering treatments at Esteem Salon, 58 Gloucester Road, Urmston, M41 9AE. Appointments must be pre booked.

Gabby Mottershead offers Reiki healing from Esteem Salon in Urmston.

Gabby Mottershead offers Reiki healing from Esteem Salon in Urmston.

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a tremendously powerful holistic healing system that can help someone to deal with problems of any kind, whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual and often succeeds where other treatments have failed. Reiki is safe to use anytime and anywhere.

So who can benefit from Reiki?

The answer is anyone, It can be given to adults, children. Babies even whilst in the mother womb. Family pets and plants can also benefit.

What happens in a Reiki session?

A Reiki treatment will normally last about an hour. The Reiki treatment is carried out fully clothed, as Reiki channels through to the person’s energy field with or without obstruction. 

The therapist will stand behind you and place their hands on you, starting at your head; this will last for several minutes at a time. There are various positions on your face, head and shoulders. Depending on the length of the treatment, they will then move position and lay their hands on your torso (avoiding any private areas), and then move on to the feet.

What you feel may differ from person to person, you may feel heat, sometimes, Reiki can also be experienced as quite cold, emanating from the therapist’s hands. Both theses feeling are noticeably different to someone simply having cold or hot hands. Most often during a treatment the energy is experienced as warmth. Others feel a mild tingle, throbbing, or pulsing sensation. A Reiki treatment is a spiritual practice because it works directly with energy or “spirit.” There is no pressure applied.

A Reiki session may sometimes bring up emotions or memories of experiences from your past, some of which you may have forgotten about. This is part of the Reiki healing process and is there to allow you to release and grow. We are only reminded of these feelings and events because we are strong enough and ready to face them again.

For Reiki to work, it is not necessary for you to feel the energy. The energy goes where it is needed and will work on whatever energy level is needed. Reiki heals on your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels to bring harmony and balance into your life.

Some people may fall asleep during a Reiki treatment, or they may feel the effects a couple of days later when things start to change and fall into place.

For further information – check out Gabby’s website


Urmston Market: some dates for your diary

Craft and Vintage on the last Saturday of every month at Urmston Market – photo courtesy of Urmston Market

Urmston Market is undergoing a remarkable renaissance this spring with many new events and stalls as well as all the excellent regulars.

Following last month’s promising debut, the Vintage and Crafts market will now run on the last Saturday of every month.

Spring Fair at Urmston Market on 12th April – photo courtesy of Urmston Market.

On Saturday 12th April, Urmston Market is holding a spectacular Spring Fair which promises an array of treasures, treats and live music.

Urmston Market will host an artisan market on the first Saturday of every month – beginning May 3rd. Photo courtesy of Urmston Market.

Finally, beginning in May, the first Saturday of every month will see Urmston Market hosting an artisan market.

Would you like to book a stall at one of these events?  It costs just £12, so make contact quickly before they are all booked.

World Book Day 2014: Why We Need Independent Bookshops

World Book Day at Urmston Bookshop

World Book Day 2014 falls this coming Thursday, 6th March and, in celebration of this special day, every school-aged child will receive a token for a free book.  Here are five reasons why you should use your token at Urmston Bookshop on Flixton Road.

1.  Independent bookshops champion reading.  Peter and Frances Hopkins of Urmston Bookshop bring beautiful books and stories into the community with school visits and many events both in the shop and at Urmston Library.  They run creative writing workshops, a book group and engaging events for children in the school holidays and at weekends.

2.  Independent bookshops bring writers and illustrators into the heart of the community.  In the past year, Urmston Bookshop has played host to Johnny Vegas, Ann Widdecombe and children’s author Steve Hartley among many other luminaries.  They even held a book launch for a cat!  This Thursday they have organised an evening with literary legend Joanna Trollope at Urmston Library.

3.  Independent bookshops are run by people who love books, rather than big companies who see books as units to be shifted at maximum profit, no more special than a tin of beans or a tube of toothpaste.  Frances and Peter Hopkins at Urmston Bookshop know and love books and they give fabulously apt recommendations – and not in a robotic, Amazon-esque ‘people who bought X also bought Y’ kind of way.

4.  Independent bookshops pay their taxes.  There are approximately 1,028 bookshops in the UK.  If they each pay tax of £10,000 (and it really isn’t worth all their hard work if they are paying less than this, so this estimate is very conservative) that’s £10 million per year.  Did you know that on-line bookselling behemoth Amazon paid just £2.4 million in UK corporation tax in 2012?  On top of that, more of the money you spend in an independent bookshop stays in the community: the Centre for Local Economic Strategies says that for every £1 that is spent with a local, independent business, between 50p-70p circulates back into that local economy.  Independent bookshops are good for our local economy.  Amazon does nothing for our local economy and pays disproportionately into our greater economy: that’s why their books are cheaper.

5.  Independent bookshops encourage other interesting businesses to open up in the same area.  Flixton Road in Urmston now boasts an utterly charming vintage shop, a specialist dancewear shop, a clothing boutique, a sweet shop, a tattoo parlour and many other quaint, quirky or useful little businesses that keep Urmston interesting.

Buying from your local independent bookshop is a much nicer experience than purchasing online.  This World Book Day, take a wander in to Urmston Bookshop and see for yourself how special it is.