York street of smiles Bishy Road on High Street Of The Year shortlist

3 Oct 2014 @ 11.14 am
| Shopping

Young and old, they love Bishy Road. Photograph: Bishy Road on Facebook
Vibrant, lively and independent, Bishopthorpe Road is a York success story. And now its winning reputation has gone nationwide, as it is named as one of the three best high streets in Britain.

On Friday (October 3) judges of the High Street Of The Year Awards announced that Bishy Road was on its shortlist for the local centre category.

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Johnny said the support from the public had been a key factor and asked people to keep using the hashtag #GBHighStreet to boost Bishy Road’s campaign

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“It’s brilliant news,” said Johnny Hayes, who co-runs Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop on the street, and is chairman of the Bishy Road Traders Association.

He said the judges visited on Thursday and liked what they saw.

“There were four of them, all very high fliers including the managing director of Boots. They were really impressed.

“Bishy Road came from being an area that was down at heel maybe 20 years ago but now is obviously the complete opposite.

“We know we’re just a local parade, but I think they were impressed with the social media and the way our Tour de France street party was handled.”

Bishopthorpe Road faces competition from London Road in Brighton and Lancashire town Barnoldswick. The champion will be announced next month – and the winners of all the categories will share a prize fund of £50,000.

To be in the top three is fantastic, Johnny said. “To be honest my objective originally was to get to the final. But now we’re in it, we’re in it to win it.”

How did Bishopthorpe Road transform itself into a high street star?

1. They worked together


“We have the strength of the community,” says Johnny. “The street parties brought us all together – the broader community – but also you have to be organised as a group of traders.

“We had to work together to create that. It doesn’t organise itself.”

Johnny said Bishy Road has certain factors in its favour, not least lots of footfall. But other streets that are struggling in York and elsewhere “have got to look at every means that they can.

“Working together’s the crucial factor. That makes all the difference.

“Shopkeepers have a tendency to be solitary. But you can’t do it in this day and age – you’ve got to be a bit more organised.”

2. They created a feel good factor


“Confidence breeds confidence and nothing succeeds more than success. People come because they like that local community atmosphere.

“The cafés are out on the street and people are sitting out enjoying a coffee and a sandwich with friends watching people go by, and they love that.”

3. They shared the love


“The social media side is really important,” said Johnny (pictured above). People can Tweet or put something on Facebook or publicise it in another way.

“If they aren’t Tweeting we’re happy for them to bring a little note in to the shop with their message and we’ll Tweet it for them.”