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New group forms to promote independent businesses in Darlington
AN ACTION group has been formed to encourage Darlington’s independent businesses to work together to bring in more shoppers.
The Darlington Independent Businesses (DIB) group is the brainchild of Sunday market trader Louise A Maddison who wants to see traders work together to create a more vibrant town centre.
Ms Maddison, who runs her own jewellery and gift company, U-Neek, has supplied and worked for various independent businesses in Darlington over the last decade and says their survival is a cause close to her heart.
She was motivated to form an action group after becoming frustrated that many people complain about issues in Darlington town centre, such as parking prices, but nothing is done to improve things.
She praised the Bid company Distinct Darlington for its work but says independent traders in particular need to work together to promote themselves in these difficult economic times.
Ms Maddison said: “I have heard a lot of people saying what their problems are, I have a history of picking up on one thing or another during my work with the independents in Darlington, and I just thought maybe now is the time to actually do something.”
Ms Maddison is compiling ideas that could be low-cost and easily implemented to help boost trade among Darlington’s independent businesses.
These include businesses advertising for each other, sharing loyalty card schemes and producing a town centre map with a trail marking all the independent shops, cafes and galleries.
Ms Maddison said: “I hear people saying Darlington is just high street stores, pound shops and charity shops, so the group is about promoting areas like Duke Street and Grange Road where we have nothing but independents.
“It is about raising awareness of these areas because when you think about it, we have some fantastic independent shops and there are a lot of them, but it is about how to remind the locals that they do exist and how to promote them to out of town people.”
A Facebook page for the group has attracted 144 members in six days, but Ms Maddison is determined that the group will be more than a talking shop and will affect real change for Darlington’s independent traders.
The group holds its first meeting this evening (Tuesday, October 22) at the Quakerhouse at 7pm.
Its facebook page can be viewed at www.facebook.com/groups/darlo.indiebusinesses/
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