Sheffield pop-up Clicks and Mortar aims to help high street fight back - with a little support from Amazon
A pop-up shop showcasing goods from online sellers, opening in Sheffield today, is described as a potential launchpad for high street businesses of the future.
Shoppers will be able to browse brands normally sold over the internet, ranging from fashion, art and homewares to food and drink, at the new Clicks and Mortar store opposite the Peace Gardens on Pinstone Street where Maplin used to be.
It will stock the wares of fledgling start-ups alongside those of established firms from Sheffield and beyond, enabling them to raise their profile and test the water to see if they could make the leap and branch out onto the high street themselves.
The venue will also host free workshops run in association with Business Sheffield, including digital training and accountancy masterclasses, to help small traders establish and grow their companies.
The set-up is the brainchild of business support network Enterprise Nation and is sponsored by Amazon, the insurer Direct Line for Business and mobile payment firm Square.
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: “Literally every day you hear of more shop closures, yet there are millions of online brands looking for this opportunity to test whether a physical presence works for them.
“This provides the chance for that next generation of retail entrepreneurs to see if they could open up a retail space in the city.”
The Clicks and Mortar in Sheffield will be the fourth to open across the country, with the idea already rolled out in Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh, but the latest branch will have a slightly different model.
Whereas in other cities the shop has been like an indoor marketplace, with sellers expected to man their own sections, Sheffield’s will be akin to a mini department store, with three dedicated staff and traders only required to show their faces at ‘meet the seller’ events.
Around half the businesses represented will be Sheffield-based, with roughly a third currently selling their wares via Amazon Marketplace.
Ms Jones said that of those businesses to have taken part in Clicks and Mortar so far, around 10 to 15 per cent planned to go on and open either a permanent store of their own or a pop-up one.
Kelham Print, a clothing firm started around four years ago by Nicola Ogle which now has a turnover of around £80,000, will be among the first wave of occupants at the Sheffield store.
The 31-year-old, of Crookes, said: “I’ve never done anything other than online selling before so I’ve never had the chance to meet my customers or get real time feedback, and this also seemed like a good networking opportunity to meet other small businesses because as you can imagine it does get a bit lonely working on your own.
“If Clicks and Mortar is a success, it would be great to be part of something similar on a permanent basis because I think people like to shop small and support independent businesses rather than putting their money in the pockets of big corporations.”
Also represented will be baby and childrenswear firm Bear & Babe, run by husband-and-wife duo Peter and Mary Croft, who started out designing clothes for their own children as they struggled to find gender neutral gear in the fun and colourful patterns in which they specialise.
The couple, who live in Hunters Bar with their three children, now employ three seamstresses, turn over around £100,000 and are just about to launch their own premises, having so far run the venture from their dining table.
“The business was born online and Clicks and Mortar will be our first foray into our own retail environment, which seems like the logical next step,” said Peter, aged 34, who used to work in marketing.
“We stock six or seven independent shops around the country but in Sheffield we’re very much in the south-west end of the city and we want to branch out a bit more so being in the city centre is perfect.”
Amazon’s success and that of other online sellers is often cited as one of the key factors in the demise of the British high street.
But asked whether the global behemoth’s involvement smacks of hypocrisy, Ms Jones replied: “They want to offer the opportunity to small online businesses to sell through a physical route, and if some of those businesses go on to open full time shops on the high street that’s nothing but good news.”
Clicks and Mortar will run for six weeks in Sheffield with a changing line-up of sellers.
The shop is due to open at 3pm today and will be open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11am-7pm except on Sundays, when the hours will be 12pm-4pm, and Fridays, when they will be 12pm-7pm. It will also close at 5pm on Thursdays on changeover weeks.
Details of ‘Meet the Accountant’ events taking place at the store are available here.
It’s not too late to apply to sell your goods in the shop, by visiting enterprisenation.com/clicksandmortar.
Below is the full list of brands which will be on sale during the first wave, from September 27-October 10:
The X Effect Habit
Status Products Ltd trading as Easy Pets