Artists and creators at a much-loved independent shop in York say they are thrilled with its new location – even though they won’t be there for long.
The Blueberry shop that was in Silver Street has moved to larger premises at 13 Goodramgate, to attract more passing trade and give more space for customers and creators.
The shop sells pieces of art, recycled items and unique gifts and household goods created by members of the Blueberry Academy, which works with people with learning difficulties in York and parts of North Yorkshire.
The group’s items were first sold at the We Are Your Emporium shop in Micklegate in 2013, then from the academy’s own first shop in Swinegate for a year. They then moved to Silver Street, and now Goodramgate.
YorkMix asked what the academy members made of the move. Here’s what some of them said:
Samantha Reynolds: “I love it. There are so many people walking past and they can easily come in and see it. It’s so beautiful and spread out, and easier for customers.”
Brendan Hulse-Storr: “It’s fantastic. The size of the place is spectacular.”
Stephanie Burrows: “It’s great. It’s definitely more busy, and has more variety of different people.”
Rachel Clayton: “It’s very accessible. We sell a lot of lovely things suitable for all ages. It’s a lot easier for customers to find items, as it’s a lot more spread out.”
Adam Sefton: “It’s bigger.”
David Kenward: “I like the new shop. I like the new stock coming in; it looks amazing on the new shelves. I like the jewellery display that you can look through and see the gold.”
Louise Hicken: “I love this new shop better than the other one because I like the shelves and we get more customers, and it’s easier for wheelchair users because there’s more space.”
Where to next?
Although the artists are impressed with the new shop, the academy’s lease in Goodramgate is only until later this year, and shop manager Angela Taylor is now inviting people to suggest their next site. She said:
We opened our doors on July 2 and have had regular and new customers through the door.
The response from customers has been positive. With a larger space to browse, customers tend to stay longer and can see the products more easily.
The space for us as an organisation is much improved, with a much larger shop floor so trainees can continue to complete tasks even if the shop is busy.
We are also able to display more furniture and artwork by our many talented learners and plan to add more information about the individual artists and makers, and the inspiration behind their creations.
Blueberry will keep the Silver Street site, but will use it to provide employment support for its members.
The bigger space at Goodramgate will mean trainees can gain more retail experience. Angela said:
This is a temporary month-by-month lease for a maximum of five months, so we are already on the look out for our next opportunity.
We hope landlords will see the added value of having us as short-term tenants.
Adding a vibrant feel to empty premises can help prospective long-term tenants to see the potential of a venue.
We would welcome any suggestions of potential premises across the city.
Last year, YorkMix reported on calls for a new city-centre retail strategy, amid growing concern.
City-centre councillor Janet Looker called then for the city to do more to support pop-up shops, where long-term occupants could not yet be secured.
Anyone who would like to suggest a future site for Blueberry can email Angela Taylor on [email protected]