For this week’s business Monday, we pose the question: What does it mean to be the owner of an independent business in our beautiful, ancient city? Where are the pros, where the cons?
After having talked to a few businesses in town, one significant issue becomes obvious, although there seems to be little else to complain about.
The flourishing deli Henshelwoods at the corner of Newgate Markets judges the current economic climate as problematic. For Ali Vincent, proprietor of the deli, this does not illustrate a battle between other local shops but a battle against the lack of the so necessary infrastructure involving proper and cheaper parking and better access to the city via Parliament Street. The deli has got a 60:40 customer ratio in favour of the locals, with regular clientele playing an essential role for the shop.
For The Earl Grey Tea Rooms on the Shambles similar issues are mentioned. England’s oldest alley is, of course, highly dependent on tourists. Although the numbers of tourists visiting exclusively the Shambles for food and drink is falling due to the variety of other culinary destinations within the city walls. The 27 year old tea shop, selling most in the tourist season from Easter to Christmas, criticises the work of City of York Council. For them, businesses are suffering because the council encourages out-of-town businesses with free parking opportunities. Moreover, they claim the Council “does not look at the big picture”; rather than fostering York’s so famous individual businesses, premises are let to those who pay most, ending up giving big chains a ground to settle on.
LICC (The Luxury Ice-Cream Company) owner Dawn Argyle also refers to parking issues in York, questioning why the council was able to enforce the Lendal Bridge closure, but shies away from other traffic policing. She would like to see the council become more engaged in the market considering measures such as events being spread over the whole town rather than all of them being centred around Parliament Street. Another problem is represented by the lack of street cleanliness, already having received complaints from customers about the unpleasantness of the filthy streets in front of her door.
Apart from these negative sides, all businesses questioned value York as a good place to be, with guaranteed tourists throughout the year, loyal inhabitants and the creative spirit York is increasingly renowned for.