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Ipswich: Independent traders benefit from retail start-up scheme

10:59 31 January 2013

Becky and Sharon meet Dawn Blackwell of Suffolk Chamber, councillor Carole Jones, council officer Cari Hodkinson and Monica Meredith of the Buttermarket Shopping Centre

Becky and Sharon meet Dawn Blackwell of Suffolk Chamber, councillor Carole Jones, council officer Cari Hodkinson and Monica Meredith of the Buttermarket Shopping Centre

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New independent retailers are taking advantage of Ipswich’s retail start-up business scheme.

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The support scheme, launched by the borough council and its partners, helps entrepreneurs get established by finding them temporary retail accommodation with only utility charges to pay, while they find their feet.

Curently based in the Buttermarket Shopping Centre is Sewtastic, a family concern selling handmade craft sock animals, knitted and crocheted items, card and wooden crafts.

Founder Sharon Elmy said: “In March 2010 I was walking to work when I was hit by a car and from that moment my life was turned upside down. I ended up losing my job, losing friends and depended on family for taking me out and coming to see me at home. A while after the accident I was looking around the house when I found a make your own sock cow present my eldest daughter Becky had bought as a holiday gift.

“I decided to have a go at it and the result was a laughing matter. But after that I decided to have a go at a monkey and gradually they started to look better until I finally was happy with the result.

“That’s when Becky decided to set me up a Facebook page and advertise selling them. The page was called Shazza’s sock creations and seemed to get off to a flying start. We did a few craft fairs but the best sales were online going to all parts of the country.

“Things started to get a little quiet recently this year and we were thinking of things to make things pick up again when I got a phone call from Becky one day mentioning test trading. I realised that we had so many crafty people in our family that it should become a handmade shop of goodies! We decided to change the name to SewTastic so that it was a name for all different things.

“Now we have sock animals, knitted and crocheted things, cards and wooden crafts. All are handmade, so unique in their own way.”

Councillor Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council’s economic development portfolio-holder, said: “We launched a new retail support scheme because we want to help start-up businesses get established during these difficult economic times. We are committed to supporting companies and jobs and we are grateful for the support of the chamber and the two shopping centres.”

The scheme is run in partnership with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, and Tower Ramparts and The Buttermarket Shopping Centre.

n If you are thinking of lauching a new business and would like more information visit: www.ipswich.gov.uk/retailstartup

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