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Category Archives: Independent

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

A community fund for Chorlton

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We’re not going to get overly political here, but it’s fair to say that austerity has led to severe cuts in public services offered by the City Council.

While the pressure is on to maintain essential services with much smaller budgets, Chorlton can no longer count on grants and subsidies in the way it once did.

We need to make a decision as a community. If we want flower beds, community events and Christmases (including lights and a switch-on), we’ll need to find a way to fund them ourselves.

That’s the bad news.

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Share the love

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We all need a bit of love in our lives, especially at this time of year. Whatever your relationship status, it’s time to love where you live – because it will love you back.

Money spent locally stays local. It supports lively high streets and district centres. It improves consumer choice and provides local jobs and training. Local prosperity means better house prices, good schools and increased inward investment.

Buy everything from chains and supermarkets and your money most likely clears off to drink cocktails in some sort of off-shore non-dom tax haven. It won’t even send you a postcard, let alone come back and visit.

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September update

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Cathy and Tom, Head Over Heels

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We know where you live

The Chorlton Map is here! Pick one up in pretty much any shop, bar, cafe or library. You may think you don’t need it because you live here, but think again. The map’s a great reminder of all the wonderful and tasty things on offer here in M21: you may find something you never knew about, or feel encouraged to try something different. You can also see which traders offer exclusive deals and discounts to TAG! card holders and save yourself a Chorlton pound or two. 30,000 maps have been printed, some are for Chorltonians; others will make their way out to other parts of town and beyond; promoting our area as a great place to shop, play and visit. We’ll also be putting large maps at key points around the centre as a handy guide for visitors.

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June’s update

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Our update from the June edition of Community Index.

June’s a big month for us – let’s hope for some lovely South Manchester sunshine!

Fanfare please….

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We’ve joined forces with Beech Road Traders and Community Index to create Chorlton Events a new calendar listing what’s happening in this place we call home. We want it to be an indispensable guide on what to do in Chorlton – from major cultural events to hidden-gem attractions on wet Wednesdays.  Members of the two Traders Associations can email their events for inclusion We’ll promote the site through our members, through the magazine and through our wider marketing channels. You’ll find the calendar – a work in progress, but filling up fast – at www.communityindex.co.uk.

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May’s update

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Chorlton’s big party 

There’s always something creative happening in Chorlton, but it’s in May that the party really gets started with Chorlton Arts Festival. We’re proud to be an official Festival Partner and that so many of our members help make it happen through staging events, supplying a venue and so much more. We love the way the festival brings visitors into Chorlton, as well as being a celebration of, and for, everyone who lives and works here. We’d like to say a huge thank you to festival director Ella and her team of volunteers, to the performers and the contributors – you all do us proud.

Want to get the most out of Chorlton? 

You’ll need a map… 

As we speak, the new Chorlton Map is shaping up beautifully. More than 75 local businesses are featured, alongside community organisations, churches and other landmarks. Chorlton artist Anna Violet has been creating bespoke illustrations of selected members, some of which you can see here. The map is designed to attract visitors and promote Chorlton as a destination for shopping, nightlife and culture. It’s also designed to help residents discover things they may not have even known about. The map should find its way into shops, libraries, cafes and all sorts of other places from June.

…and the local currency 

While we don’t have a Chorlton Pound (yet), we do have the TAG Pass It On scheme – the card which rewards your loyalty. For just five (ordinary British) pounds, you’ll get deals and discounts with loads of local traders. Whether you’ve got dresses, diamonds or daffodils on your shopping list, TAG gets you some cheeky discounts and even a freebie here and there. It’s all designed to encourage you to shop local and keep Chorlton interesting, which benefits everyone. New TAG members offering exclusive discounts include the Bosu Body Bar, Love Lucy, Bike Barn and Grays Larder.

Pick up a card in shops displaying the TAG logo. It’s valid for the whole of 2015 and if you shop local, it pays for itself in no time at all. We have absolutely no idea why anyone would want to go into town….

April’s update

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It’s a busy time for Chorlton Traders. W’ve been working to help clean up, green up and generally tidy up Chorlton, in partnership with the City Council. The map is moving along nicely too. We’ve an independent business sector every part of Manchester would be proud of and we want to show it off !

Time to flash that TAG!

New deals for the extra-fabulous on TAG! this month. Your local loyalty card will save you a sparkling 10% on pre-made diamond jewellery at Wilbrahams of Chorlton. Budget a little smaller? Enjoy 10% off all spends over £10 at Love Lucy, Beech Road’s new boutique. Pick up your TAG! card in any shop with a sticker in the window. It’s just £5 and pays for itself in no time – especially if you’re buying diamonds, darlings.

Hit the Beech 

No Chorlton summer is complete without Beech Road’s Family Fun Day, which takes place on Sunday 5 July 2015.

The event will feature the usual quirky and eclectic blend of dancing, circus skills, great food and laid-back picnic options. Money raised goes towards making Beech Road Park a nicer place for everyone.If you’d like to sell your wares or services in the park on the day, you can rent a pitch from just £40 for 3m x 3m. If you’re a performer who could donate your talents, our very good friends at Beech Road Traders would also love to hear from you – Contact Beech Road Traders

On the Market 

Don’t forget Chorlton’s lovely markets in April.

  • Chorlton Market Saturday 18 April, 9am-4pm, outside the library on Manchester Road
  • The Market on the Green Saturday 25 April, 11am-5pm, Chorlton Green
  • Art Market Open every day, Chorlton Precinct.

Chorlton Map

We’re working with Beech Road Traders to create a free map that will list all the best and brightest Chorlton businesses. It will help residents, visitors and newcomers know the area better, find some hidden gems and understand just why we all love to call M21 home. The map will be not only be distributed in Chorlton, but also in the city centre and surrounding areas. The print run is 30,000.

If you’d like your business to be listed, there are a number of different options. If you’re a home-based business, or run a market stall, a limited number of contact listings are just £45, but you’ll need to be quick. If you have premises that need to be marked on the map, rates start at £70.  And because we want it to be a thing of beauty, the brilliant Anna Violet will be illustrating it. If you’d like to commission Anna to really put you on the map with a bespoke sketch of your premises, the rate is £200.

The traders associations have a very big job to do, so if you’d like to be included, get in touch by Tuesday 7 April. If you’re not already a member, you’ll need to join either Chorlton Traders, or Beech Road

 

March’s update

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Here’s a thing that doesn’t happen every day

We’re starting by talking about Didsbury…

Sometimes we need reminding of the reasons to be proud of where we live. So many of us hop on a tram into town when what we want is right under our noses.

Our sister organisation, Didsbury Traders has just produced a fantastic new map, which lists key attractions, features and local businesses. It’s been getting a big thumbs-up from residents, visitors and traders alike and was singled out for praise at a recent meeting of the City Council.

The free map is all about promoting our local economy and community. It’s about keeping money in – and bringing money into – our neighbourhood. Independent businesses need our custom to survive: that’s not about being charitable, it’s about getting great service with a personal touch from people who care. Our High Streets are what make our district centres distinctive and give that village feel that we’re so proud of in Chorlton.

The map helps promote a distinct and desirable area and a visitor destination. It conveys an attractive image, makes much of its transport links and is intended to bring in tourists and visitors from other parts of town, as well as helping residents discover things they didn’t know existed. So if it’s good enough for Didsbury….

We’re going to apply for a grant to get a similar map off the ground in Chorlton. Our plan is for local artist Anna Violet to illustrate local features and selected businesses.

This is a huge undertaking, but we believe it’s a worthwhile one: it won’t happen overnight and there’s a lot of work to be done. We’re going to be getting in touch with all our members to request a contribution towards costs at a choice of prices and levels. Don’t miss out: if you’re already a member, look out for updates. If you’re not a member, we’d love you to join us. If you’re a Chorlton resident, follow us on Twitter for updates or keep reading these pages.

WLTM green-fingered Chorltonians

Last month we mentioned the new community garden we’ll be creating between the library and the Sedge Lynn. We’re hoping handy Chorlton residents will be able to help us with painting, basic construction, planting and labour. We’re going to fill the garden with fruit and fragrant lovely things in time for the summer. If you can help, please do contact us.

Pub and Shop Watch

Our Pub and Shop Watch scheme is getting off the ground. By working together, traders and licensees can share intelligence about offenders and suspicious activity and make Chorlton safer for everyone. Greater Manchester Police are supporting the scheme – and it’s free. If you’re a member, get in touch with us if you’d like to join.

November’s Update

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Chorlton’s Big Saturday

Saturday 6 December is a day for the diary in Chorlton. The festive fun kicks off in earnest with the Christmas Lights Switch On party and a visit from a certain jolly fellow dressed in red. CTA has organised a fundraising raffle so dig deep for a chance to win some festival sparkle and fabulous prizes donated by our members.

Saturday 6 December is also Small Business Saturday. You don’t need us to tell you about how great Chorlton’s indie business sector is – just make sure you vote with your feet and your cash. If you’ve got a TAG! loyalty card, you’ll already know about the year-round savings you can make when you shop local. If you haven’t, look out for the new 2015 cards in December or visit www.tagpassiton.com.

Pop-Art

There are two types of people in Chorlton: those who love lovely things and those who make them. Both are catered for at the wonderful Chorlton Art Market pop-up in the Precinct. Get in touch with Alice if you’re a designer, artists or maker looking for a pitch; or wander by if you’re looking for an unusual or thoughtful gift – it doesn’t even have to be for someone else.

C’est si bon

Congratulations to Epicerie Ludo, who recently picked up the Best Food and Drink Retailer award at the 2014 Manchester Food and Drink Festival. Ludo has been a great addition to Beech Road and raised lots of money for charity through the TAG scheme (a magnifique 10% saving for cardholders too).

Honourable mention also goes to the Parlour, Food Pub of the Year finalist in a year that’s seen Chorlton somewhat under-represented in the finals. Those judges need to catch the tram out of town a bit more.

Please help!

If you’re about to start filling up on festive food, spare a thought for those on the street now the weather’s turned cold. If you have food, drink and warm clothing you can spare, drop it into Elliott’s in the Precinct for the Mad Dogs Street Project. This is a charity run by and for Manchester people that cooks hot food for homeless people. It’s all done by volunteers, so your donations go right to where they matter: a pan of food costing just £7.00 can feed up to 30 people.