TRADERS in Sheffield have launched an initiative to promote the city’s antiques quarter that could provide a template for other parts of the country to follow.
Working closely with the council and county tourism body Welcome To Yorkshire, the traders' action group has already set about developing a strategic marketing plan and a programme of one-to-one support for each business within the quarter, centred on Broadfield Road in the Heeley area of the city.
Hendrika Stephens, owner of contemporary art business The Corner Gallery, is the driving force behind the initiative. She told ATG that not only had antiques dealers shown eager support, but that the wider business community was also keen to get involved.
"What shocked us most was that people living in Sheffield didn't even know we were here," she said, "but there are at least half a dozen antique centres, as well as a large number of other shops, covering everything from antiques to vintage, retro and contemporary art.
"There are around 60 shops on Abbeydale Road alone. They used to depend on European traders coming over and buying wholesale, but that has largely gone now."
Mrs Stephens says that the council's active support has been key to the success of the initiative so far.
"It's not about asking them for a lot of money, more making better use of the resources they already have.
"The council have been fantastic, and local businesses are willing to invest in a marketing plan because in these times they understand that we have to raise awareness of the quarter locally, countywide and beyond."
The action group is already devising an antiques trail for the quarter and looking at putting up a network of brown tourism signs from the M1 to the city centre.
Further consultation is now taking place to decide on other measures.