Traders join forces to save Darlington's high street

First published in News
Last updated
Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Darlington)

TRADERS and business owners are joining forces to encourage people to shop locally and save their town centre.

Following the collapse of high street giants HMV, Jessops, Blockbuster and Comet, a group of Darlington business owners have joined together to urge people to save the high street and independent retailers.

The group - which also includes residents, Covered Market traders, the Darlington Town Centre Management team and Darlington Borough Council leader, Bill Dixon - is fighting back to save its town centre and to encourage people to take pride in Darlington.

Leading the fight is Beryl Hankin, who runs Guru Boutique, in Blackwellgate.

“Everybody is finding it tough at the moment, but we want to try our best to harness the good spirit of Darlington and to encourage local businesses to prosper,” she said.

“We are all in it together and we have all got to help each other. People love Darlington and there is something special about the place.

“Darlington has so much going for it and we have got to keep it alive for future generations.”

Despite the increasing popularity of internet shopping, the group believes there will always be a place for the high street shops and independent retailers, and are encouraging people to get out there and discover what Darlington has to offer.

Bill Gillow, who runs Geoffrey Gillow clothes shop, which has been in Darlington's Grange Road for 45 years, said: “I think the high street will flourish. It is changing but it will hopefully change for the better.

“We are encouraging the local people of Darlington to experience that extra customer service they can get by coming into town and into a shop, rather than buying online.

“It is a much more social experience and you simply cannot get that by buying off the Internet.”

Michelle Van Vlijmen, from Darlington Town Centre Management, said: “The businesses are clubbing together to fight the doom and gloom and they are doing a fantastic job.

“Not everybody knows about the independent shops down the side streets and in the yards, so we are encouraging people to try something new and save local businesses.”

For more information on the fight to save Darlington's high street, join the Destination Darlington Facebook group.

Comments (4)

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6:40pm Mon 21 Jan 13

Spy Boy says...

First we need more people coming to Darlington. This may mean that the council reduce car parking charges and a more flexible approach to parking fines. ( Not the Pitbull tactics we've seen of late.) Even DBC admitted that the whole parking thing was just breaking even. That being the case, don't even bother with it. Better charges and firm policing. Get the people back into the town.

They could also encourage more small businesses to come into town to fill all the empty units in the Cornmill, Queen Street and Skinnergate. Even the Covered Market is looking a little gap toothed these days. I have seen some indoor markets in other towns and some look very good. Why can't ours look as good ? Come on DBC, get your sums right and do us all a favour.
First we need more people coming to Darlington. This may mean that the council reduce car parking charges and a more flexible approach to parking fines. ( Not the Pitbull tactics we've seen of late.) Even DBC admitted that the whole parking thing was just breaking even. That being the case, don't even bother with it. Better charges and firm policing. Get the people back into the town. They could also encourage more small businesses to come into town to fill all the empty units in the Cornmill, Queen Street and Skinnergate. Even the Covered Market is looking a little gap toothed these days. I have seen some indoor markets in other towns and some look very good. Why can't ours look as good ? Come on DBC, get your sums right and do us all a favour. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

10:49pm Mon 21 Jan 13

harry2 says...

I enjoy looking through the market and the shops in the town but. Since I've had a pay freeze and bills still go up I can't afford to pay the prices on the high street, you can get DVDs of amazon half the price of hmv, I have to go we're my money will stretch further .
I enjoy looking through the market and the shops in the town but. Since I've had a pay freeze and bills still go up I can't afford to pay the prices on the high street, you can get DVDs of amazon half the price of hmv, I have to go we're my money will stretch further . harry2
  • Score: 0

6:47am Tue 22 Jan 13

Quaker Boy says...

I have to agree with Spy Boy on the parking issue. Love it or hate it the car is here to stay so if the Council want to save the High Street they have to be more car friendly and be more flexible on parking and charges. People use their car for convenience, especially if purchasing large items and of course people in rural communities rely on the car for all matters of travel.

Then there is the issue of the bus situation in the town. I thought in this day and age we are supposed to be reducing polution, not in our town centre. Walk past the busses parked on High Row outside the Cornmill and you get a good old intake of fumes. The air quality around there must be really bad with 3 to 4 busses parked with their engines running. I suppose you could hold your breath and walk fast. This doesn't give a good impression of wanting to shop in Darlington. Can a bus station not be built where Commercial Street car park is now, I know the Council has it set aside for a shopping complex but do we really need one in these times? Or how about in the Beaumont Street car park opposite where the new cinema is going to be?
I have to agree with Spy Boy on the parking issue. Love it or hate it the car is here to stay so if the Council want to save the High Street they have to be more car friendly and be more flexible on parking and charges. People use their car for convenience, especially if purchasing large items and of course people in rural communities rely on the car for all matters of travel. Then there is the issue of the bus situation in the town. I thought in this day and age we are supposed to be reducing polution, not in our town centre. Walk past the busses parked on High Row outside the Cornmill and you get a good old intake of fumes. The air quality around there must be really bad with 3 to 4 busses parked with their engines running. I suppose you could hold your breath and walk fast. This doesn't give a good impression of wanting to shop in Darlington. Can a bus station not be built where Commercial Street car park is now, I know the Council has it set aside for a shopping complex but do we really need one in these times? Or how about in the Beaumont Street car park opposite where the new cinema is going to be? Quaker Boy
  • Score: 0

8:11am Tue 22 Jan 13

John Justice says...

I am a Darlo lad but now live out of town. Town centres are changing due in part to the rise of Internet shopping. Town centres, with the exception of pubs and clubs seem to open between 9.00am and 6.00pm and all have similar stores. I believe town centres need to develop new ideas and attract shoppers away from the internet and back into the towns. Make me want to visit Darlington town centre in spite of high car parking charges and bad weather. When I go into a store I should find it an enjoyable experience not a chore. Traders need to turn shopping in Darlington into a different experience to what it is now and make it a combination of necessity and pleasure. Some shops do this but more need to get motivated to motivate the shopper. This means not only competitive prices but quality goods, attractive interiors and adding entertainment to the experience.
I would urge them to look at the slow demise of Bishop Auckland town centre and avoid similar experiences. Shoppers, traders and the Council need to work together to make the town work better. Good luck with the project.
I am a Darlo lad but now live out of town. Town centres are changing due in part to the rise of Internet shopping. Town centres, with the exception of pubs and clubs seem to open between 9.00am and 6.00pm and all have similar stores. I believe town centres need to develop new ideas and attract shoppers away from the internet and back into the towns. Make me want to visit Darlington town centre in spite of high car parking charges and bad weather. When I go into a store I should find it an enjoyable experience not a chore. Traders need to turn shopping in Darlington into a different experience to what it is now and make it a combination of necessity and pleasure. Some shops do this but more need to get motivated to motivate the shopper. This means not only competitive prices but quality goods, attractive interiors and adding entertainment to the experience. I would urge them to look at the slow demise of Bishop Auckland town centre and avoid similar experiences. Shoppers, traders and the Council need to work together to make the town work better. Good luck with the project. John Justice
  • Score: 0

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