A new initiative called ‘Love Belper’ has been set up by a number of independent business owners to promote the high street and attract visitors.
Laura Surga, owner of Strutts Menswear on Strutt Street, set up the initiative to “showcase what a great town Belper is, the amazing things it has to offer and create the best shopping experience we possibly can.”
Back in May she arranged an open meeting to discuss the idea and 18 people turned up. Since then she has worked with local businesses, community groups and councillors to bring together the town in support of local shopping under the logo ‘Love Belper.’
The group launched a Facebook page ‘Love Belper’ on Saturday and it has already crossed the 1000 followers mark.
Back in 2014 Belper won the first Best Market Town award out of 135 contenders and was names High Street Champion. Since then it has seen an increase in visitor numbers and has continued to maintain a diverse range of thriving independent shops.
The challenges to independent shops are varied with many facing high rates, online competition and out of town retail parks. Laura, however, argues that it is not rates, but rather changing the attitude of shoppers to invest in their local economy. She says: “I’m up against ASOS and massive online businesses. Independent shops can’t survive unless people support them and really try and use them as their first port of call.”
“Compared to other small towns we have an amazing mix of shops in Belper. There’s jewellery, gift shops with really quirky ideas, quality children’s wear and toys, deli’s selling local artisan cheeses, chocolates, local gin, hampers, unique Nordic inspired homewares and gifts, retro homeware, rustic home and gifts, artwork, lots of amazing ladies boutiques and of course my shop- Strut Menswear”
The group has designed a map of all the independent businesses in town, a website is under construction which will feature a business directory and they also have a family event planned for October this year. They also plan to have late night shopping on the run up to Christmas.
12,000 copies of the map will be printed and it will include ‘where to eat,’ ‘where to shop,’ ‘hidden gems’ and ‘traditional services’ to signpost both local visitors and tourists to the many shops Belper has to offer.
Accessibility Belper has also collaborated with Love Belper to add ‘safe spaces’ for vulnerable people, stock to door options for those unable to access shops and home deliveries.
To find out more see their Facebook page here.