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Category Archives: christmas

Chorlton Christmas Window Dressing Competition

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Nothing creates a lovely atmosphere on the streets of Chorlton better than festive shop windows.  Margaret Williams of Chorlton Civic Society has the story of how the competition has come to be a tradition.

During the early 1990s, my husband Frank and I, both members of the Chorlton Civic Society, were spending Christmas with our son, Alun and his French friend, Isabelle Vialat, both young artists, in Nîmes, in the South of France. Nimes has a good number of small, independent shops, so Alun and Isabelle – always on the lookout for any opportunities to earn some money using their artistic talents – managed to make arrangements with many of the local traders to decorate their windows with Christmas themes. They were allowed to paint on the windows of each shop with a unique Christmas scene incorporating reference to the merchandise on sale, and were paid by each shop owner.   I toured round all the decorated shops and thought it was a delightful idea, which made the town centre most attractive .

On my return home, I thought about what I had seen and wondered whether something similar could help our local traders to gain a little publicity and to increase their sales. It was obvious that Alun’s method would not be practical here, but knowing that many of the traders made such efforts themselves with their Christmas displays, why not a competition ?

When the idea was presented to the Civic Society at the next meeting, there was general support from the members, with many offers of help, especially from Mary Paul, Jenny Slee and Phil Robinson, if I’d be willing to organise such a competition, and I was happy to do so!  We decided to offer application forms – printed by Phil – to all the traders, delivered by a team of volunteers . To all the applicants we followed with decorated window stickers – also printed by Phil – explaining the competition and inviting potential customers to view the displays which we hoped would attract them into the shops and perhaps make a few purchases.

We informed the traders of the judging period and worked out a trio of judges, to include, whenever possible, an artist. Over the years these have included Dan King of Lancaster University Art Faculty, who was a staunch member of the Society, Anna Violet, Gwyn Jones and Peter Topping. Also helping on one occasion when the artist had to cancel was my own French daughter-in-law, Claire Lesteven, also an artist, when she made a brief stop here en route from New York to Brittany. We worked out a judging system noting Christmas themes, colour, attractiveness of displays both during daylight and dark (since many schemes made good use of lighting) and reference to and use of appropriate goods for sale.

Notable winners over the years have included Victoria of Chorlton Bookshop with her ever-imaginative themes; Maureen of the RSPCA charity shop who used only donated goods to form a wonderful window; Mathilde of Romano, who used her perfume and jewelry in most elegant displays; Pauline at Hurricane of Beech Road with Father Christmas’ large trousers descending a chimney; Karen at Discount Cards who had a working cable car crossing a lovely snow scene; and one of the stars was Andrew at Modern Army Store (now sadly no longer in business]. After winning third prize one year, Andrew was determined to improve and won second prize the following year, finally sweeping the first prize with a brilliantly conceived display including an active snowfall, penguins sitting happily among the gloves, torches and sleeping bags, and a ‘Count the robins’ competition, with life-size robins peeping out from amazing places!

Mary designed the certificates for all the winners, as well as all ‘highly commended’ and supplied frames for them.   The winners were invited to attend the next Society meeting after Christmas where they were congratulated and presented with their prizes and certificates. All other entrants were acknowledged and thanked for their participation.

More recently it was decided to ask the judges to make a tour of all the decorated shops, without actually inviting applications, and to decide on the winners in this way.   It is gratifying to know that the Chorlton Traders will now join the Civic Society to support what has become a tradition of our Christmas here in Chorlton, showing our appreciation of our independent shops.

Margaret Williams

Chorlton Traders News – November-December

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A very Chorlton Christmas

Christmas shopping… traffic tailbacks, stress, queues of bad-tempered strangers and indifferent, exhausted shop assistants. Er… nope, not here!

Chorlton’s home of the quirky invidivual – and the quirky, invididual gift – with artisan makers and bakers, creative artists and craftspeople. And this is arguably the foodiest part of town too – a great place to come for high quality produce, whether that’s free-range meat, organic veg, gorgeous continental imports, or decadent cakes, chocolates and other treats. Can’t choose? We thought of that….

Chorlton Gift Vouchers

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Show your love for this town of ours with the perfect gift and keep Chorlton money where it belongs: we all profit when we’ve a lively local economy. Available in £10 denominations,the vouchers can be spent with all businesses on the Chorlton Map right up until 31 December 2017. Get yours from the Celebration Party Shop; Epicerie Ludo, McQueen Independent,Love Lucy Boutique, Head over Heels,the Make It Shop, Unicorn or Elliots. Or you can buy online here.

Getting carried away

We’re down to the last of our limited edition So Chorlton cotton bags. At just £2.99, they’re a bargain handy foldaway. Every penny raised has, and will, go to maintaining Chorlton’s flowers – the community garden by the library, beds by the Precinct, planters, herbs, boxes and bike racks. Help Chorlton grow – buy yours from Chorlton Art Market Hub, Elliotts, Chorlton Bookshop, Epicerie Ludo or online – but be quick!

Tag! cards are back

Small Business Saturday (3 December) sees the launch of the 2017 TAG! Cards – the little card that offers big local deals and discounts. For just £5, there’s a year’s worth of savings to be had – if you shop local, that is. Pick yours up wherever you see the logo or visit tagpassiton.com

Shop windows

If you’re a trader with premises in Chorlton, grab your glitter, sprinkle a bit of sparkle in your windows and enter the Civic Society’s Christmas shop window competition. Judging takes place in the week commencing 5 December. And if your favourite shop, bar or cafe isn’t entering into the festive spirit with a wonderful window, have a word. Let’s feel festive.

September update

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We’ve had a bit of time off – but not much! Before the summer sun has quite finished cracking the flags, we’re already turning our thoughts to the autumn and winter ahead. Spare a thought for those in need, dig deep to help light up the night and – most of all, keep it Chorlton.

Mary Paul (1932-2016)

Chorlton and Beech Road Traders are enormously sad to have lost the wonderful Mary Paul, who died suddenly in late July.

Mary’s ‘day job’ was the family business, Magic Balloons, but she was also Chair of Beech Road Traders and a tireless community campaigner, with boundless energy and a redoutable spirit. She made Chorlton a better place, connecting people and getting good things done.

Jenny Slee, from the Friends of Beech Road Park: “If anything good happened in Chorlton, you could safely assume Mary had been involved: from festivals to parades, Christmas switch-ons, fundraisers and more. She was an inspiration and will be very much missed”

Councillor John Hacking: “I, along with my Chorlton councillor colleagues, will greatly miss Mary’s help, generosity, kindness and support. We will also miss her determination, doggedness and campaigning energy.”

In October, a white hawthorn and a pink crab apple tree will be planted in Beech Road Park and dedicated to Mary’s memory. A very fitting tribute in a place that she loved. Everyone is welcome to come along.

Follow@chorltontraders for updates.

Keep it Chorlton

Remember that you can still buy and spend Chorlton Gift Vouchers – they’re a great way to keep money in the local economy. Give them as gifts to friends, family, even local charities. They’re valid until December 2017. Spend them with all our members listed on the Chorlton Map and buy them at:

Celebration, Barlow Moor Road
Elliotts, Chorlton Precinct
Epicerie Ludo, Beech Road
Head Over Heels, Albany Trading Estate
Love Lucy Boutique, Beech Road
McQueen Independent, Beech Road
The Make It Shop, Wilbraham Road
Unicorn Grocery, Albany Road

More information – and buy online at www.chorltonmap.co.uk .

Bring Your Pants!

Reach out to the Community is a local initiative, which offers support for local people struggling with the most basic of needs: food and shelter. Our members, Stephanie and Becky from Elliotts Fruit & Veg, began the project in the summer. Theirs is a very practical approach; working with a number of agencies, who refer those in need of help. This all about making a difference in Chorlton: donations help local rough sleepers and families in food poverty. Can you help?

The project needs:

Men’s underpants, socks and jogging bottoms. Second-hand are fine, but clean and in good condition, please;
Toiletries, including sanitary towels and tampons;
Food: tins, rice, dried pasta and other non-perishable items

Drop items off at Elliotts in the Precinct, where you can also donate cash or buy second-hand books in aid of the project.

Christmas is coming…

We’re not going to start flogging baubles just yet, but we are already looking ahead to the festive season. Civic subsidy for Christmas lights is likely to be greatly reduced, given other pressures, so we’re fundraising to reduce our dependence on it, both this year and in the future. We’re working on our plans as we speak and will all be doing our bit – you can too. If you see raffles or collecting tins in local shops, please do buy a ticket or spare a bit of change. We all need a bit of sparkle, especially at Christmas.

It’s beginning to look a lot like …

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We know it’s still only November, but here at Chorlton Traders, we’ve been thinking about Christmas for a long time. It’s our favourite time of year – everywhere’s lit up and everyone’s in a good mood (if they’re not too stressed and overwhelmed by it all). Christmas takes a lot of preparation and planning, which is usually done by our members working voluntarily. We’d like to thank them for all they do to help Chorlton be a nicer place for us all.

Talking of which….

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