One of Halifax’s longest-serving independent retailers has admitted he was initially sceptical of major investment projects he now believes has rescued the town’s fortunes.
Revo Records owner Nick Simonet said that multi-million pound injections into projects such as the £19 million Piece Hall renovation have made all the difference to small businesses like his.
The iconic vinyl record and entertainment store, based in the Westgate Arcade which itself undertook a stunning £2 million redevelopment in 2007, is celebrating its 31st year.
It’s a stretch of time in which Nick has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of retail in Calderdale.
“There’s been ups and downs,” he said, “but what we’ve seen over the last few years is a huge resurgence in the town. The footfall has improved massively and there’s a buzz about the place again.
“I’m a Halifax lad, I’ll love the place no matter what, but there have been periods where it hasn’t been a great place to be, not just as a shopowner but as somebody just being in the town.
“But it’s got its act together. When the roof was put on down here, we were plunged into darkness for two years. It’s not good for business and there were times I wondered what would happen.
“You look at it now and it’s incredible. It’s bright, you’ve got people walking up and down, people sit outside, have a coffee and wander in afterwards. There’s an atmosphere to enjoy down here.” When news broke of the level of investment ringfenced for work at the Piece Hall, Nick, who runs Revo alongside Sharon Harrison, was concerned once again.
“It was such a lot of money. It was hard not to be wary, I think. I know a lot of people were.
“But it’s been brilliant for us, we’re on the flight path to the Piece Hall and I’m such a big fan of the place. What they’ve done down there is incredible.”
Nick admitted that online stores such as Amazon have been quick to take a considerable slice of the ‘vinyl revival’ market, saying he’s had to stay ahead of the game when it comes to shifting stock.
“We’ve seen very definite changes in fashion when it comes to what people want from us. We try to stay within £2 of Amazon and we’ve got to work hard but we’re doing well.
“There is a buzz about what’s happening in Halifax and as a small business, it’s great to be a part of that.”