Home to 300 businesses with 20 new ones opening in just 18 months
“In a desirable part of the city within walking distance of Sheffield Antiques Quarter,” quoted Hendrika Stephens from a recent estate agent advert, with some pride. “I think that’s a real step forward.”
Over 1,000 people browsed the quarter’s quarterly vintage market next to Abbeydale Picture House on Sunday, with nearly 50 local traders selling their arts, crafts, second-hand, reclaimed and vintage wares.
“The traders are all linking up, and people know each other,”said Hendrika. “This is absolutely about the community and the business community.”
A man with a magenta mohican and leather jacket walked by.
“Hello!” said Hendrika, in her best BBC presenter accent. “You’re looking very gorgeous.”
“No-one’s every said that before,” said slightly flustered local artist Jason Heppenstall, moving swiftly along.
Hendrika added: “Everybody’s got a bit of a story really, and all these stories are linking together here and it’s forging something really special in Sheffield, although we still haven’t got our brown signage...”
She runs The Corner Gallery art gallery in the Quarter, and over the last two and half years has been very politely raising the issue of brown heritage signs and other promotional matters with the council and her fellow traders.
The SAQ is well established, with antique and second-hand shops a big part of the local economy of Highfield, Heeley and Abbeydale Road for many years. The nature of the area means that creative types are also increasingly keen to live there.
“We want banners and signs so people know when they get here, and so that everyone knows there is a Sheffeld Antiques Quarter, and it’s here for good.”
A crowd-funding site has been set up, raising £1,300 of the £18,000 or so needed to provide brown signs, banners, information boards and public artworks celebrating the SAQ.
The quarter, said Hendrika, is a location with lots of shops and businesses, not just those selling arts and antiques, and she’s planning to ask some local national and international companies with local operations to chip in.
“I’d say to Tesco, Morrisons and Virgin Active that the quarter brings people to live and shop here, which is good for all businesses in the area. I’d like them to dip in their pockets and give us the £18,000 please!”
There are now around 300 traders operating in the antiques, arts and crafts and vintage businesses in the area, with around 20 new businesses setting up over the last 18 months.
Hendrika’s next plan is to negotiate short term leases and pop-up shops in the 20 or so empty shop units in the quarter to allow people to try out a shop for a month or so. The next SAQ vintage market is on December 7.
“It is a really desirable, creative area. I’m really pleased with how it’s going. And it may take time, but we will get the brown signs.”