Shop for Lancashire - Support your brilliant local shops and businesses
PUBLISHED: 16:06 29 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:06 29 September 2020
Shops, businesses and attractions across Lancashire and the Lake District have adapted and evolved during the Covid crisis and many are now open again to support their communities. There has never been a better time to show your love for your local businesses.
Bowland Wild Boar Park
Life was not on pause at Bowland Wild Boar Park during lockdown – the animals there still needed to be fed and cared for and spring brought plenty of new arrivals. And the baby animals aren’t the only new things at the Chipping attraction – visitors will also find a new one-way system, a range of socially-distanced walks and extra handwashing stations.
Business development director Neil McDonald said: ‘It has been challenging because we still had to feed and care for the animals, even if there weren’t people coming in.
‘Now we’re open again, we can’t do chick holding or animal petting but we are starting socially-distanced wild boar walks and talks and we’ve got new activity packs to encourage people to explore the whole 62 acre park. Because we are so big, it means we can have quite a few people on site and maintain those distances.’
Over recent months Stirk House in the Forest of Bowland has had to live without weddings in their 17th century manor house. They looked to their 22 acres of countryside, nature trails and breathtaking views and decided to invite people to ‘Explore the Estate’. A free downloadable guide and pre-bookable family picnics or afternoon teas were available
and bookings per day limited, in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Helen Kay, Stirk House Director says: ‘The easing of lockdown has left many people feeling desperate for access to countryside spaces for relaxation, leisure and to just enjoy, and that has really made me realise we need to do more to tell people about our beautiful grounds and to encourage them to come and enjoy it.’
Leighton Hall, re-opened on July 16th, with new social-distancing guidelines, lots of hand sanitiser and a re-modelled tearoom with table service and take-aways.
Estate manager Lucy Arthurs said: ‘It’s been an extremely difficult and worrying time. For the first time in 61 years, we couldn’t open the doors on May 1st, and the estate has been eerily quiet. Our offer has changed, so to begin with we are opening just Thursday and Sunday afternoons. Visitors will be required to pre-book their choice of visit online via our website, ensuring comfortable natural distancing and smaller, staggered house tours.’
Outdoors, bird of prey displays are on hold for now, but the gardens, woodland walk, children’s play areas, maze and new educational Bee Corner are fully open and every child will be given an activity pack and there’s even a 3D ‘Build Leighton Hall’ activity that is to be completed at home.
‘People have been fantastically supportive,’ Lucy added. ‘Hopefully this is just the first step to safeguarding Leighton’s survival, and we are thrilled to be welcoming our many friends back.’
The market on Church Street was closed during lockdown but offered a food delivery service to customers and were able to get an online ordering system in place to support traders who were inundated with enquiries. Now re-open, we have one-way systems, hand sanitisation stations and a restricted number of visitors. It has been remarkable to see the ideas and adaptations people have done and are doing to keep their businesses thriving – this makes us optimistic for the future.
Family owned and operated, independent retailer Booths swiftly adapted and continued to serve its customers with the highest quality, locally sourced and seasonal products throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Responsible business practices are integral to Booths, who constantly strive to engage with the wider community while developing long term partnerships with local suppliers and producers.
As a family-owned business, Stuart Frazer have been based in Lancashire for more than 45 years and has had the same managing director since the start: Mark Harrison. They have three showrooms in Preston, Ribble Valley and Manchester. In response to Covid, they have employed the very latest and vigorous sanitising processes for their showrooms in the form of bio-fogging. This is a hospital grade procedure undertaken by specialists.
This cutting-edge technology ensures the safest environments for customers. They ask customers to phone ahead of visiting as only one family is allowed in the showroom at any one time.
A multi-award winning company, Stuart Frazer is one of the most financially secure, successful kitchen companies in the UK.
In recognition of their prominence in the UK as the largest SieMatic dealer and as the world’s longest serving SieMatic dealer, SieMatic have awarded them premium partner status. They are also true kitchen specialists – unlike other companies they do not diversify into other areas of the home such as bedrooms and bathrooms.
Chic Happens was one of the few businesses to open a shop during the lockdown. Former lawyer Claire Robinson launched her business online last year and said: ‘My online business has exploded in the lockdown as everyone’s buying habits have changed. People are buying more from people, rather than faceless companies.
‘The minute lockdown happened people seemed to want a retail fix for a bit of a pick-me-up and with the big boys closed, they turned to me. I have been sending out about 700 parcels a week. It has grown hugely in the pandemic.’
That success led to her opening a boutique on Preston Road in Whittle-le-Woods which aims to build on what she achieved with the online shop and she added: ‘I have been thinking of opening a shop for a while and recently the business has taken over my home. I have been running the business through a closed Facebook group and we have 5,600 people from all over the world.People are time-poor and don’t have the time to trek around the high street. Online you can’t feel the fabric or try clothes on, but I try to bridge that gap by doing events online, trying clothes on, talking about how they hang, how they feel, what body shape they will suit etc.’
Lavender Hotel Group
Family owned and north-west based Lavender Hotel Group is opening its doors again. The Lavender group operates four Best Western hotels in Burnley, in Ramsbottom and Widnes, and have planned a phased opening approach which will see all the hotels re-opening in July and August.
‘To say it’s been a rough three months would be an understatement,’ said group owner, Sarah Sikorski. ‘It’s our belief that with everything that’s gone on and although people will be desperate to get away, they will only feel comfortable under certain conditions.
‘Firstly I don’t think people will be heading to crowded city centres, they will want cleaning/hygiene procedure reassurance and perhaps looking for a good deal.
‘We are lucky our hotels are in the countryside with an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy while still being able to observe social distancing.
‘We have also put in place a very robust hygiene and social distancing policy so staying guests can be reassured they will be safe. We’re also running our popular all-inclusive package which offers incredible value for money. We’ve really missed our customers and can’t wait to see them again.’
Safety measures now in place at the multi-award winning garden centre Barton Grange include; compulsory hand sanitiser for all guests on arrival, everyone must keep two metres apart where possible, and only card payments are currently accepted.
The Willows Restaurant has re-opened for pre-booked tables, with over half the seating removed to restrict numbers, and the Flower Bowl’s cinema has also reopened, with one less sofa in each row to ensure distance between groups. For opening times, more information and to book, go to
After months of planning Wysteria Beauty had their grand opening on March 7th, just two weeks before lockdown! Those first two weeks were a great success and our treatments and therapies – everything from laser hair removal, plasma and popular beauty treatments – were very popular. It was with great sadness that we had to close our doors so soon after opening.
Lockdown allowed us to increase our social media awareness and to concentrate on our online retail shop – wysteriabeauty.online – which proved a huge success with orders being taken and delivered all over the country. As all four of our staff were not eligible for the furlough scheme due to our payroll being set up too late, our online presence has given us the chance to still pay a small staff wage.
There will be a few changes upon re-opening, however, our working environment is already highly clinical and requires PPE as well as vigorous cleaning regimes even before lockdown. This will continue with a few alterations like spaces in between bookings, maximum one person at appointment etc.
Fiddler’s Lancashire Crisps
The family farm on Brick Kiln Farm, Rufford diversified to making crisps in 2011. The family kept the business open throughout lockdown, supplying farm shops and taking orders from families.
The market was closed to customers but open for traders offering essential food supplies. Some staff painted the building and did repairs within the building as well as opening up for traders and ensuring people were safe. Another member of staff used a council vehicle to support traders with deliveries across Darwen and surrounding areas.
Changes that customers will see include: Freshly painted areas, more cleaning, one-way systems, screens on stalls and many more measures with the aim of keeping people safe.
Mark Leigh Kitchens
Sales designer Derek Bowyer has worked at Mark Leigh Kitchens for 16 years and said the business has been busy from the moment they re-opened after lockdown.
‘We have come back and hit the ground running. We had some work held over from before the lockdown and we have had new people coming to us since we have re-opened as well.
‘We have seen people who have been at home and have wanted to improve their home and we’ve had other people who have decided that since they’re not going to be going on holiday, they will spend the money on their home instead.
‘We display appliances not many people do, including some very specialist appliances. The SieMatic range is very wide – there are things for all sizes of kitchen and all budgets.’
The business, one of the UK’s longest established SieMatic dealerships, has showrooms in Lancaster and Kendal and Derek added: ‘Both our showrooms have been totally refurbished in recent months and we are doing everything we can to keep customers safe and secure.’
The business was still operational during lockdown and we continued to supply many of our independent retail partners. We also carried out non-contact doorstep deliveries across the county, as well as sending out parcels nationwide. We also launched a freshly mixed, ready to pour cocktail pack for two, which proved extremely popular and includes elements supplied by other Lancashire-based producers. These have now been added to our product range as a permanent feature.
We feel this period has been an opportunity for people to reflect on their shopping habits. They’ve had the opportunity to explore the range of independent businesses available and the quality of service they provide as a genuine alternative to mass market. At the start of the year, we had planned and indicated we would be launching the first of our bespoke mixer range products in the early spring and our ready to pour GG&Ts in the early summer. The current situation has obviously meant this has been slightly delayed, but now things have started to ease we are now only a short time away from these being available. This has been a really exciting development for us as we have been very hands on with their development at every stage, from recipe development to branding and production.
Shoppers and visitors to parts of the Ribble Valley have enjoyed a range of measures designed to entice people back to the high street.
The Borough Council’s #LoveRibbleValley campaign was aimed at letting people know shops in towns and villages across the area are open for business and introducing two hours free parking in some car parks, and wider pavements to make socially-distanced shopping easier.
Most of the shops in the popular shopping centres of Clitheroe, Whalley and Longridge are independents and many have made their own changes to ensure shoppers are able to circulate and enjoy the shopping experience safely, from limiting numbers where necessary to offering appointment slots with a complimentary glass of fizz!
On the right road
Blackburn-based independent road maintenance business Kays added rainbows and messages of thanks to the NHS to the more routine road markings they have painted this year.
The family-run firm, which employs 50 people, has also been responsible for some of the social distancing markings in town centres and the creation of temporary cycle lanes.
Commercial director Shaun Hargreaves said: ‘Of course we would never have wanted to find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic but I think we are all proud that we are able to do something productive to help keep the North West safe and moving.’
Making the Zoom boom pay
Liam McIaney was about to start a job with a design agency in Preston when Covid hit and they could no longer afford to offer the post.
At home in Chorley during lockdown, he saw how a friend
was delivering yoga classes through Zoom, but was struggling to monetise the live streams. That is when he hit on the idea of creating an easy-to-use platform that allows you to sell tickets and live stream from your own customisable channel.
Liam, who received a £50,000 grant from InnovateUK to develop the idea, was also helped by Chorley Borough Council to launch ‘Tidze – It’s your stage’.
He said: ‘During lockdown, so many talented performers, creators and teachers have been unable to earn a living. Tidze has been developed with these professional requirements in mind so they can share their talent with pupils and fans across the globe via a well-designed, secure online platform.’
To find out more, go online to tidze.com.
A new identity
When she was made redundant earlier this year, Blackburn-born Sarah Hardy launched her own business to support SMEs.
Identity Creative Consultants builds on her 20-plus years of experience in sales and marketing and aims to offer a range of low-cost marketing and support services to SMEs across the region, who have fabulous products and great ideas but often don’t have the resources to market their business.
Sarah said: ‘There is a need to support small businesses and start-ups across the area, especially now as they are faced with so many new challenges.
‘I hope that my business can be seen as a feel-good story
and I have the opportunity to work with as many of these entrepreneurs as possible.’
Sarah is also proud to be supporting the Rotary Club of Great Harwood and Rishton who are using the business support and content sides of the Identity business to improve awareness
of their causes and boost their fundraising.
Fifteen years after the company was founded, Blackburn-based Vision Support Services has launched ecopure, a new brand of sustainable textiles.
The range of innovative and environmentally-friendly products will help textile services and the laundry industry achieve their own ecological goals. The ecopure product range offers everything required to produce a complete and eco-friendly guest room from duvets to pillows, to flat bed linen, towels, bathrobes and slippers.
Vision Support Services is a world leading textile company that supplies ethically sourced, high-quality products to the biggest hospitality and retail brands in the world including Marriott, Hilton and John Lewis.
Managing Director Laurie Thomas said: ‘It’s an honour to have a flourishing textile business in the heart of East Lancashire and it’s down to our people.
‘People don’t buy from companies, they buy from people. It is sheer determination, effort, tenacity and the dedication to what we do – day in, day out – that makes Vision what it is today. We’re much more than a box of sheets.’
To find out more, go to visionsupportservices.com/ecopure.
eBusiness is booming
A series of new contract wins with businesses from throughout Lancashire and beyond has seen Blackburn-based eBusiness UK’s sales jump more than 50% over the same period last year.
Latif Kothia, director of the web development, ecommerce and digital marketing agency said: ‘When the scale of the pandemic became apparent, many businesses became nervous and began planning to cut costs. But as time passed and we assessed the situation, the business community realised we could all work together to overcome this.
‘Historically speaking, the brands that invest the most in raising their profile during tough times are the ones that emerge in the strongest position, and I think that’s what we are seeing here.
‘We’re working with organisations from a range of industries but what they have in common is a desire to be proactive and to take control of the situation.
‘The pandemic put a lot of stresses and strains on cash reserves but we didn’t want that to stand in the way of anyone launching a timely new project, so this was our way of doing our bit to support the local business community.’