Shopping locally is growing ever more important. Sheffield City Council is running a new Shop Local initiative to encourage the people of Sheffield to invest in their local businesses and high streets. But what do local business people think of this? We asked five high street shop owners to give us their thoughts.
It’s been an exceptionally challenging winter for high street businesses. As the arrival of spring and the removal of COVID-19 restrictions hopefully begin to bring more people back to the high street, Sheffield City Council wants to get more people thinking about shopping locally and say thank you to businesses for their hard work keeping people safe and the economy going through such unprecedented times.
Shopping locally is a huge part of this. It is choosing to buy your food, clothing, and other day-to-day items from a local business instead of investing in larger retailers who likely have massive franchises. These local businesses are vital for communities, often providing everything you might ever want or need to buy but in a more eco-friendly and ethical way, frequently with higher quality or fresher products.
Local businesses desperately need our support. As part of this, Sheffield City Council’s business support arm, Business Sheffield, have a team of six business information officers on the high streets of Sheffield (all 40 of them!).
The team are helping local shops with everything from cashflow to shop layouts, increasing footfall to social media support. Using their connections to colleagues at the council, they can assist with queries on things like licensing or street cleaning.
They have also commissioned four local artists to create a tote bag. The bags will be inspired by Sheffield and themed around shopping locally. They will be distributed across high-street businesses to stimulate trade, showcase businesses as part of a broader high street community, and remind customers to take pride in shopping locally.
Esther Morrison, business info officer and food consultant, said: “Sheffield’s neighbourhood high streets are home to a wealth of independent food spaces to chill, delis to delight, zero waste shops to reduce plastic, market traders providing street food, food halls tapping into local breweries and distilleries, and restaurants worth crossing the city for (and making a fantastic weekend break too!).
“When you find a hidden gem in Sheffield, tell the world! If you pick up something tasty and local at a market, grab their card and hand it to your local independent shop. If you visit an area of the city for the first time and eat something the city should know about, Google review it! If you meet somebody whose cooking is so delicious that they could make a living from it…call Business Sheffield and help them start that journey.”
Find out more about Business Sheffield and their tote bags at www.welcometosheffield.co.uk/business (find the officers in the Meet our team section) or call Business Sheffield 01142245000.
Damascus Sweets is a popular bakery located on Spital Hill, Burngreave, serving fresh sweets and specialising in Middle Eastern desserts inspired by dishes from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
They are known for their manakish, a popular Levantine food consisting of dough topped with thyme, cheese or ground meat, and fresh kunafe, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made with a spun pastry called kataifi, soaked in a sugar-based syrup and layered with cream, pistachio or nuts.
Ibrahim Alhaggo, owner of Damascus Sweets, speaks to us about his shop and his thoughts on the council’s Shop Local campaign.
He said: “We decided to open our restaurant here because there is a large Middle Eastern community here. The foods are really well known in most countries, even the UK, and people enjoy our foods.
“We have a lot of English customers. They may not know much about the food, but they visit the shop, and we allow them to try samples, and when they try it, they love it and keep coming back. It’s really good knowing that we’re encouraging people to try something new, and that they enjoy it too.
“It’s important to shop local because, at Damascus Sweets, everything is handmade, original and fresh every day. Whereas with supermarkets, it’s hard to know how fresh the produce is.
“Our prices reflect the quality of our products, which might be higher than your larger stores, but people are still coming to our shop because they know everything is fresh, and that we make everything with our hearts.
“People notice the difference between ours and the supermarket version. It’s totally different. The quality is better and the food more authentic.”
Looking to the future, Ibrahim hopes to gain space in the Moor Market and the Sheffield City Centre Christmas Markets to introduce even more people to his bakery’s unique delicacies.
He said: “Lots of people visit my shop, and they ask why I haven’t opened in the city centre yet as there’s a really heavy footfall there. I can’t wait to get a space in one of the markets to be able to showcase a different style of sweets and desserts. I have so many ideas, and the future is inspiring.
“I hope the council’s campaign helps local stores like mine to have an opportunity to make it in the city centre by helping us get our feet off the ground, to have lower rents or council rates, maybe lower taxes, to give us an opportunity to start and see how things flourish and grow from there.”
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Il Forno Bakery provides the best quality baked goods, handcrafted sandwiches, delicious desserts and the finest rotisserie chicken in the city.
Working from a beautiful shop displaying and serving their baked goods and delicious takeaway meals, Il Forno is located near Firth Park in Sheffield.
Open 8am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, Il Forno bake bread daily in-house via traditional clay ovens to ensure the freshest, most delicious taste.
We spoke to Hussain Asem from Il Forno about his business and his thoughts on shopping locally.
He said: “We provide homemade, fresher, and healthier options for people, especially compared to many other takeaways in our area. Our chefs pride themselves on using only the best ingredients – you won’t find bread this good anywhere else in Sheffield!”
Il Forno is unique in that they update their menu every day – customers can always be sure that the products they are buying are homemade daily.
Hussain said: “Shopping locally is essential. It allows you to travel less, and if you’re on a tight schedule nearby, people don’t have to skip a meal during the day; they can pop in and quickly order something for their lunch, making sure that they look after themselves.
“Plus, our products are fresher and healthier than what larger stores can provide, and having local stores helps there be more options in communities and makes communities more welcoming and friendly as a whole.”
“We believe that the council’s Shop Local campaign will help draw more customers allowing people to see what we actually do.
Once people find us, they have the amazing opportunity to try a range of fresh homemade foods that are quick to buy, healthy to eat and can be bought at affordable prices.
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Hillsborough’s Annie Jude’s is a gift shop with a real backstory – and a very moving one at that.
34-year-old Faith Nicholson started the business, which sells a whole range of gifts, crafts and handmade items, after her mother sadly passed away last year.
From candles to confectionary, jewellery to skincare, there’s something for everyone – and it was only made possible by the money Faith received from her mum.
She said: “This business is a real tribute to my mum and it’s her lasting legacy.
“Her name was Judith Ann, so the shop is named after her – and my little girl’s middle name is Jude too.
“My mum was so community minded and that inspires me every day, it’s what I want to bring to this shop.”
Annie Jude’s has only been open since December 2021, when Faith was so determined to open before Christmas that she had to rely on just a backup generator and candles because her electricity wasn’t up and running in time.
While she might be warmer now, her determination to succeed is as strong as ever.
That’s why she’s so excited about Sheffield City Council’s ‘Shop Local’ scheme – and the message behind it.
“Seeing the council supporting small businesses is so important and shows how much they matter to the people of Sheffield,” Faith said. “It means a lot to have that backing and to have someone fighting our corner. Any promotion really helps.”
Faith believes that continuing to shop locally and supporting smaller businesses is imperative to the survival of the high street.
And her passion for her own high street in Hillsborough is evident, as she raves about the array of options and local amenities available.
She said: “We’re so lucky to have so many excellent choices right on our doorstep.
“We have everything you could ever need – from greasy spoons to posh delis and every type of shop you can think of. I never want to lose that.
“I think that’s why the council’s message is so great, because we need to be shouting about all these lovely independents that are all so close, but maybe not as well-known.”
And it’s not just the businesses that make the high street so special for Faith – it’s the people.
She said: “While shopping online is nice, what you don’t get is the interaction and personalised experience of shopping in store. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be interacting with other people as much as possible.
“I have been so lucky to get so much support from our community and meet so many lovely people. For me, that’s why shopping locally is vital – long may it continue!”
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Sheffield Skincare Co
Sheffield Skincare Company is an independent Sheffield business based in Crookes. They make 100 per cent natural skincare products in small batches to ensure that everything is as fresh as possible.
Their ingredients are ethically sourced and they are passionate about plastic-free packaging.
Megan Beardsmore, from Sheffield Skincare, said: “It’s important to shop local as you’ll be putting money back into the community. I end up spending the money I earn through my business back in the area.
“It means you’re not funding a second or third home or someone’s fourth car, you’re helping local people who are putting the money back into their businesses and their local economy.
“Boosting the independent shops in Sheffield is vital as it makes them easily accessible for everyone. The council’s campaign is a great idea. For those who have survived the pandemic, we could do with the support.
“The first few months of the year have been quiet, for us and across Sheffield. That support, even if it’s just something little, boosts the economy and keeps all those independent shops that do special things that you can’t find in big supermarkets.
“There’s more love behind a product when it comes from an independent shop. You can visit and have a chat. We can help people, adjust things slightly, create bespoke wedding favours, all the things that bigger companies can’t do.”
Many of Sheffield Skincare’s product names come from local Sheffield sayings or are named after places in Sheffield. Their passion for the place they live in is another excellent quality of being an independent store in the city and Crookes has a large community of independently owned stores.
Megan said: “We all talk together and share any problems we’re having. We’re quite linked together, so, for example, I can communicate with Sorrels Bakery or the Unwrapped store about anything my store is going through.
“There’s a lot of support on that front and a lot of help from the community. For things like Christmas and Mother’s Day, people around here are good at shopping local.
“We also get people visiting from outside the area, which is brilliant; Crookes attracts people. It’s got charming cafes and generally draws quite a few people in. There’s a good atmosphere around here, and it’s great to be involved in it.”
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Based in a leafy suburb of Sheffield, Snugg Kids on Ecclesall Road strives to bring the best quality Scandinavian products on the market for children aged 0-8 years.
With a wide selection of clothes, books, accessories and lifestyle items, Snugg aims to help you and your children live your best Scandi-style life.
The team takes every effort to use companies that source natural materials for responsibly and ethically made products, and everything is handpicked to ensure the highest quality.
Amy Cuttill, from Snugg, said: “It’s a concept store, more of an experience than your typical shop, and it’s filled with all-handpicked pieces of clothing. It’s all Scandinavian themed, so there are a lot of unique products that you won’t see anywhere else.
“It’s important to shop local because the world would be boring without lots of different small shops. Not to forget it’s critical for the UK economy.
“We hope that the Shop Local campaign provides more exposure to what we do and overwrites misconceptions that there may be. For example, people think our products will be over budget, but we have a mixture of options, so there is a price point for everyone.”
Snugg is located near the Botanical Gardens and Endcliffe Park and resides next door to Nonnas, a classic Italian restaurant.
Amy said: “I like the fact we have the parks and Nonnas so close. There are so many great independent shops on the same street, or around the corner from us, and it means that we can always lean on each other. It’s a nice community.”
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