Why buying local will reap reward for Sheffield shoppers

Tracy Thorpe's leather goods are hand-dyed.
Tracy Thorpe's leather goods are hand-dyed.
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Sheffield shoppers are getting the message about the benefits of buying local. And a group of the city’s most talented people are reaping the rewards this December, and all year round.

The Sheffield Makers Shop is open in the Winter Garden, with a constant stream of customers itching to buy from local manufacturers.

Sheffield Makers Shop

Sheffield Makers Shop

The shop opened last Christmas season and, thanks to popular demand, is now a permanent fixture.

It’s the brain child of photographer Kate Cooper, who needed a new outlet last season after the Christmas markets didn’t prove fruitful.

She got all the local manufacturers she could think of together to stock a new shop, and it’s going from strength to strength.

“It’s going really well,” Kate said.

Sally Williams with one of her colourful works on sale at the shop.

Sally Williams with one of her colourful works on sale at the shop.

Tourists provide plenty of business.

“I never realised how many tourists there are in Sheffield, but we get a lot of visitors,” Kate said.

There are about 30 people selling their stock and staffing the shop.

Tracy Thorpe from Ports and Awl was behind the counter yesterday. Making leather goods has been a hobby for her partner Martin Simpkins for about 10 years.

Sheffield Makers Shop

Sheffield Makers Shop

After making presents for family, the couple decided to branch out and try and sell their products.

They offer wallets, belts, bags, bracelets and various other accessories. They are hand-stitched and dyed.

Some products feature designs from another Sheffielder, Natasha Withington. Tracy said buying from locals had benefits.

“It’s about keeping it small, real and local,” she said.

Sheffield Makers Shop

Sheffield Makers Shop

“It’s better for the environment. Things aren’t shipped halfway around the world.”

House of Alphonse owner-operator Sally Williams agreed.

“You get a bit of soul in with whatever you buy.”

Her colourful, hand-cut paper designs are proving popular. She is a fan of bright designs.

Sally began making the designs as gifts for new mothers, and she hasn’t looked back.

“It’s been A god-send, really,” she said.

The shoppers were certainly getting the message.

“It’s really busy at times,” Tracy said.

“Mondays are generally quiet, but at the moment there is a really good flow of people through.”

Kate said the shop had changed significantly in the last 12 months.

It now has, among other things, proper shelves.

She said: “We have given everybody their dining tables back.”

The shop also has a Facebook page. Search for Sheffield Makers Shop.