A TOWN centre space has been repurposed to house local retailers ahead of this weekend’s Independents’ Day – a campaign to support and promote independent retail businesses across the UK.

Located inside the old Argos building on Church Street, Microshops is a shopping space designed for independent traders and entrepreneurs in the town centre.

Launched by national commercial property company LCP in eight locations across the country, the concept aims to revitalise the UK high street and offer affordable opportunities to local businesses.

Ahead of this weekend’s Independents’ Day, which encourages people to shop locally at independent retailers, the Star visited the Microshops space as more traders are taking advantage of the fifteen “pods” that are available.

The current pods include a babywear business, a bakery stall and a homemade jewellery store.

Babywear business, Daisy’s Wardrobe was created only five months ago by Sophie McNally and Justine Rye.

The business is named after Sophie's two-year-old daughter.

Sophie and Justine at their babywear stall, Daisy's Wardrobe

Sophie and Justine at their babywear stall, Daisy's Wardrobe

Sophie explained: “We have put a lot of money into [the business] and took a massive risk. So far, the risk has worked out really well.”

Gaining custom from both the town centre and through social media, the pair feel they are making “amazing” progress considering the restrictions of the pandemic.

After the difficulties of the past year, in addition to the continued decline of the high street and the closure of big brands in the town centre, Sophie perceives that Microshops, in championing small, local businesses is “exactly what [St Helens] needs.”

Becky Miller, owner of Crystal Dreams – a homemade crystal, dreamcatcher and jewellery pop-up – has similar thoughts.

She said: “I haven’t seen anything like this in St Helens for a long time. It’s really good for local businesses and the wellbeing of local people.”

Becky Miller, owner of Crystal Dreams

Becky Miller, owner of Crystal Dreams

To pursue her own business, Becky left her full-time job as a private cleaner and sees the space as an opportunity to owning her own shop in the future, which she can then leave to her two young daughters.

Owner of Turkish bakery and food stall B&D Dreams, Biarcu Duvarci also sees Microshops as a “great opportunity for businesses” as the stalls are offered at an affordable price in a convenient location.

B&D Dreams, a Turkish bakery and food stall

B&D Dreams, a Turkish bakery and food stall

Independents’ Day – aligned with the American 4th July celebrations – will see a focus on small, independent businesses that have particularly struggled throughout the pandemic.

Data from Simply Business reveals that the total anticipated costs to small businesses and the self-employed due to Covid-19 will be upwards of £126.6 billion – nearly double the initial estimated amount.

Despite this, many entrepreneurs have decided to weather the storm and create their own business against the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Beth McDonald, owner of Flawless Scents

Beth McDonald, owner of Flawless Scents

Beth McDonald is an example of one of these entrepreneurs, who moved into Microshops in early June after starting her business Flawless Scents in April, creating handmade candles, wax melts and carpet fresheners.

Beth stated that Independents’ Day is a great way to get more people into the store, adding that local traders appreciate the custom a lot more in their own town.

Independent retailers account for approximately 65 per cent of retail outlets across the UK, and the Independent’s Day campaign encourages people to shop locally this weekend and support businesses that are at the heart of the community.