Top of the shops? Hail the road free of chains

Sharrow Vale Road has been nominated for the High Street of the year competition. Fran Mcnamera at Sharrow Vale Hardware store
Sharrow Vale Road has been nominated for the High Street of the year competition. Fran Mcnamera at Sharrow Vale Hardware store

With its wide and eclectic range of independent shops, cafes and galleries, Sharrowvale Road swims against the retail tide.

There are no supermarkets and no chain stores.

It’s a different type of high street - and one deserving of national recognition, say traders and community representatives, which is why Sharrowvale Road is in the running for High Street of the Year.

The idea for entering the competition came from local MP Paul Blomfield, who said the area had “creativity, vibrancy and independence” and offered “something different” to the big shopping centres and department stores.

“Sharrow Vale is a great shopping destination thanks to the combination of a fantastic range of small independent shops all offering something special from great contemporary design to a fabulous range of foods,” he said.

Some 25 years ago, Sharrowvale Road was more like the traditional high street.

Gradually, the mix became more cosmopolitan, led by businesses such as craft and design shop Ora (now closing for retirement). The big name shops steered clear.

Now the road is renowned for its diversity of independent ventures - delis, fishmongers, butchers, greengrocers, bakers, picture framers, opticians, sports and craft shops, alongside places to eat and drink - and a quarterly street market. Last July’s market was the biggest ever, stretching as far as the new, and bigger, Sharrow Marrow.

“We have got everything on our doorstep,” said Shelley Cockayne, who chairs Sharrow Vale Community Association, organisers of the market. “You hardly need to go to a supermarket. There are no chain stores and all the traders work together. They don’t clash with what they are selling. They are all on the same side.”

Maria Proctor, of the Brookhouse Florist, said: “A lot of people liken it to Notting Hill, especially when the street market is on. I do think it is the best road in Sheffield. It is a meandering little street, there’s no chains and people love to come and have a little walk around.”

Fran Mcnamara, of the Sharrow Vale Hardware shop, said: “It has everything you need and there is a lot more personality than there is at other high streets.”

Her shop has its own personality - George the cat, a regular on the counter.

A recent arrival is a traditional sweet shop, Evermore.

Russ Peckett, whose wife Janet runs the store while he runs the Porter Brook pub, pointed to the “cosmopolitan” feel of Sharrowvale Road.

High street of the year? “Why not?”