On December 7th I spent Small Business Saturday in Thornaby talking to local shopkeepers. I particularly enjoyed visiting the inShops and have been back several times since. The traders told me they were anxious to secure more customers and many were only just keeping their heads above water because not enough people were coming in to visit their units. They particularly felt the signage on the building was insufficient so it wasn’t clear they were there. I arranged to meeting the local manager and had a good discussion with him, he showed me the plans for what the signage should look like, it had already been designed, but he said there seemed to be problems about progressing it. We agreed together this was a priority and he gave me his boss’s phone number so we could arrange to all meet and talk about it. I rang several times but got no answer and he didn’t return my messages.
When I heard the news last week that inShops had called in the receiver it started to make sense. They obviously didn’t have the money to do what was needed.
This is not just a Thornaby issue but across the country. inShops had 50 centres with 1800 traders in micro businesses. It is heart-breaking for everyone concerned. Many of the traders I spoke to were self employed bread-winners, this was their income, their livelihood. According to the latest reports, a small few have found somewhere else to trade, for others their goods will go into garages, sheds and back bedrooms while they worry about their futures.
Thankfully the inShops in the Dundas Arcade in Middlesbrough have been saved as the building’s landlords have stepped in to keep them going.
I will be doing what I can to support any Thornaby traders that approach me, I have good links with the Castlegate Centre and they in turn will have other ideas about help to find a new home.