Firms get stuck in to help shop dream come true

A CHARITY shop with a difference opens in the town centre this month - and the story of its journey from dream to reality is one which highlights the commitment of kind-hearted local businesses to supporting a good cause.

Cancer support charity Aurora was delighted when a businessman’s generous offer enabled them to realise the ambition to set up a shop to support the organisation’s work and raise its profile in the town.

Property developer Bryan Merritt, who owns Phoenix Properties in South Parade, approached the charity only a month ago with the opportunity to take on the tenancy of a vacant shop in Scot Lane, with the first year’s rent absolutely free, and a storage unit at the firm’s U-Store site in Hexthorpe thrown in.

“I’ve had a personal connection with Aurora for years and I wanted to ensure they had a presence in the town centre and so donating this shop to them was an ideal solution.

“Even if they felt they were unable to take on the lease once the year is up, I’m committed to making sure they have drop-in premises in the town centre. They will not be out of a home,” said Bryan, who also plans to climb Mont Blanc in the Alps in aid of the charity next summer.

And the generosity of local firms does not stop there. Construction company Wates, currently working on the first phase of the Civic and Cultural Quarter development at Waterdale, heard about Bryan’s offer, and arranged for their contractors to provide the labour and materials needed to fit out the new store - again free of charge.

“Wates originally approached us about six months ago offering to adopt us as their local charity, as they’re keen to give something back to the area now they’re working at Waterdale - but they wanted to do more than donate money. When they heard about the shop project they realised they could help in a unique way, and so they supplied us with electricians, plumbers, joiners, shop-fitters and graphic designers, all for free - we couldn’t have afforded to set up the shop otherwise’, explained a delighted Peter Bradley, Aurora’s campaigns manager.

The charity were also given free timber from local supplier Maltings, and decorating kit from Premier Paints.

Phoenix Properties intend to refurbish the property’s basement and the charity have decided to use the space to provide therapeutic beauty treatments as a straight-off-the-street service to the general public - and following feedback from their clients would like to run an old-fashioned barber service offering ‘wet shaves’ to gentlemen customers.

The shop’s official opening is planned for later this month - and Aurora is looking for a traditional barber.