Torbay MP Kevin Foster highlighted the success of the project during a debate on self-employment and how to support the self-employed.
Kevin Foster stated: “I am sure the Secretary of State agrees that online opportunities are giving many people the chance to set up a micro business. Does he agree that schemes such as the Pop Up Shop initiative that Torbay Council ran to help internet micro-retailers to take their first step on the high street are the kind of thing we should be looking at in terms of self-employment?”
In reply, Damian Green, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “I very much agree and I particularly welcome Torbay’s Pop Up shop experiment… I am delighted to hear what is happening in Torbay.”
The shop in Union Street closed just before Christmas and offered local home or online businesses the opportunity to trial the real world of the high street. It showcased 47 businesses from 102 applications following its launch in August 2016.
They were offered to showcase their businesses for up to six weeks for just £30 a week, and some 23 retail businesses found the experience so positive that they rebooked space in the shop again later in the project.
Cllr Richard Haddock, Torbay’s executive lead for Business, said: “Of the 47 businesses that retailed in Pop up the High Street, eight have so far gone on to secure a shop or retail premises in or around Torbay.
“This project provided independent local businesses the opportunity to become familiar with high street trading, learn from their experiences and grow. The shop brought a positivity and vitality to Torquay town centre and we will continue to provide opportunities like this to support regeneration in Torbay’s town centres.”
The vast majority of retailers went on to develop their online presence and social media accounts. As a result of a change in business strategy, Jellyfish Jewellery now has over 1,000 Instagram followers.
Peter Morris, who used the shop to experience high street retail for his business Lockabox Ltd, said: “It allowed us to get face to face with a number of local business owners and also introduced us to teachers who gave us a valuable insight into how Lockabox can work in the education sector.
Jackie Viney of the curtain and soft furnishing business NoBoJacs said: “The experience was great fun, and I learnt so much about by business. The free business advice was invaluable – always brilliantly supportive, helpful and friendly.”
Mark McGilvary of Takahashi McGil, the husband and wife company that creates homewares by hand, said: “Pop up the High Street was the stepping stone we needed to help get our products out there. Knowing what the public thought of the products gave me the confidence to apply for a studio space at Cockington Court.”
Vikki Ellis, who runs the card business Shute Lane, said: “I must say a big thank you to the team at the TDA for their help and support. I wouldn’t have been able to launch my business without the opportunity.”
The retailers were also offered free business advice from senior business advisor Liz Edwards. Liz said: “It was a pleasure working with a range of fantastic local businesses and see many of them grow their business and explore new opportunities.
“The Business Advisors at the TDA will continue to support these businesses through their journey and offer advice where and when they require it.”
To read more about the retailers stories visit: www.popupthehighstreet.org
For more information on small business support visit: www.tda-business.co.ukFollow