Sunday - 23 November 2014

Sheffield dealers lead the way in reviving their fortunes

09 July 2012Written by Ivan Macquisten

If the people of Sheffield weren’t aware of the vibrant Antiques Quarter right under their noses, they must be now.

The Quarter is a 1.5-mile stretch with about 15 centres and shops selling antique, retro, vintage and arts wares.

Less than three months into a campaign to revive its fortunes and promote the area, just south of the city centre, to Sheffield's inhabitants and beyond, progress has been remarkable, paving the way for what could well provide a template for other towns and cities in the UK to follow.

Pictured here, for instance, are just two images from a portfolio taken by Amie Parsons in a photo shoot organised by Jennie Beard, who runs Hansley Beard Events and Wedding Design Studio on Abbeydale Road in the Quarter.

The photo shoot took place in antiques and retro shops with models dressed up in vintage and retro attire to show what is on offer, and the pictures are now being used to market the Quarter.

It's just one of the activities prompted by the Sheffield Antiques Quarter group formed in the past couple of months by local retailers, politicians and interest groups. Chaired by Contemporary art dealer Hendrika Stephens, it is already active on social media sites Facebook and Twitter, promoting the Quarter and its activities and this, in turn, has attracted wider media interest from local newspapers and radio stations.

Mrs Stephens has been delighted by the way everyone has come together to work on the project, "from those willing to put time and energy into developing the proposals to others willing to offer free professional services to help move things forward".

Marketing

A subgroup is working with Marketing Sheffield to develop branding, and illustrator Dan Potter is putting the finishing touches to a draft logo for road signs and promotional literature.

"While obviously the area will be looking to invest in brown signage and collective marketing, the current offers of help enable things to move forward quickly while the group still finds its feet," said Mrs Stephens.

"Although it's realised that development will be financially beneficial to the businesses involved, the Quarter passionately believe that it is as much about bringing improvement to the area and raising awareness of this vibrant part of town."

Particularly important has been the "100% backing" from the city council, which is offering across-the-board support from its Enterprise Team and others, to include individual business support and social media training. The group has also been consulting county tourism body Welcome To Yorkshire about plans to promote the Quarter further afield. And ATG have also been providing the group with information and advice where possible. We first reported on the initiative on the front page of ATG No 2039, May 5.

Howard Greaves, of Dronfield Antiques in the Quarter, a business established in 1968, echoed many people's sentiments about the initiative, saying: "This is fantastic news for Sheffield and it will be a major boost for the city's economy.

"I was there during the 1980s when we were a magnet for national and international trade and in those days there were over 40 antique shops in the area. If you count the individual pitches in all the antique centres, we are now way above double that figure and back in strength. Sheffield has become a worthwhile port of call once again and hopefully we'll see those vans with the foreign number plates as well as the tourists once again."

Meanwhile Mrs Stephens said: "Actions speak louder than words and we can't fault the council for the spontaneous response they have had to recent developments and their positive attitude. They also clearly recognise the need for the Quarter to lead itself in the knowledge that this will have the greatest chance of sustainable success."

If all goes according to plan, there will be an official relaunch of the Quarter at the end of September.

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