Halifax makers' thank you as people rush to support small businesses hit by cancellation of Piece Hall's markets because of Storm Arwen

Halifax makers have been thanking people who have rallied round to support them after their markets at The Piece Hall were cancelled.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 12:56 pm
People flocked to The Piece Hall when the Winter Makers Market was on during the previous weekend.

Both Saturday and Sunday's Winter Makers Markets had to be scrapped after Storm Arwen severely damaged the market tents.

The Piece Hall itself had to closed for several hours on Saturday morning, only opening in the early afternoon.

The previous weekend's markets had helped bring the most footfall seen at The Piece Hall since it re-opened in 2017.

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Zoe Sembi of bespoke jewellers Hello Halfpenny

Expecting a similar bumper weekend of trading, small businesses who were due to have stalls at the market last weekend - had spent months and thousands of pounds preparing stock to sell.

Zoe Sembi, of Croft Myl-based bespoke jewellers Hello Halfpenny, said: "It was such a huge blow. Preparing to show at a fair like this involves so much preparation for small businesses like mine.

"All my pieces are made by hand in my Halifax studio so to create enough pieces to show a busy three-day market has been months in the preparation, not to mention a massive financial outlay for materials.

"I usually trade online through my website and last Christmas my sales were surprisingly good as people were forced to shop online during lockdown. When shops re-opened in April this year my sales dropped, as I know many other small online businesses did when people were able to shop in person again.

"The markets were going to be a great opportunity to have that face-to-face interaction with customers that is so needed sometimes.

"Since the cancellation, people on social media have really rallied around my business and offered so much support. I have had offers of help to photograph and upload my stock online, offers from local shops to display my work and many customers asking to see what I have available to sell as they want to support my business.

"It’s so heartwarming to know how much people really do value small businesses."

Lucy's Little Bake House, based at Hanson Lane Enterprise Centre, also thanked their customers.

Lucy Chapple, who owns the business with Pam Crawshaw, said they were devastated when the markets were cancelled.

"We had heard that the footfall of the first weekend of the makers markets was 60,000 so all last week we baked like we'd never baked before. We baked all day and into the night every day last week just so we had enough stock for the weekend.

"Like lots of other small businesses that we know, Covid-19 has hit us really hard. Initially, during lockdown, we were really fortunate and did well. Who wouldn't want a box of brownies delivered to them during lockdown?

"But as things started to get back to normal, money was tight for most people and, understandably, no one had much spare cash for treats like our bakes. Because of this, it's been a very quiet six months."

She said rising fuel costs have caused their bills to soar and it has been a very worrying time as a small business.

"We've always done really well at the previous makers markets and knew the Christmas one would be extra busy. We were counting on the extra income to get us through the quiet January and February months when no one wants cakes and everyone is on a diet!" she said.

"So for us to hear that the two remaining days were cancelled was devastating."

Lucy and Pam decided to try and recoup some of their costs by selling some of their bakes at their unit at Hanson Lane Enterprise Centre yesterday (Sunday), and put out a plea on social media for their followers to spread the word.

They were amazed when their post was shared nearly 600 times, reaching more than 47,000 people.

"We were inundated with messages of support from loads of people and lots of small businesses offered practical help with ways they could help to sell our bakes," said Lucy.

"We sold out of all the cakes in just two hours. People queued up in the snow for ages to buy some of our cakes and support us.

"We are so, so thankful and we will never forget the kindness that has been shown to us this weekend."

She added how impressed she had been with The Piece Hall team and how they dealt with the situation.

Nicky Chance-Thompson, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, said: “I feel deeply for our stall holders who I know put so much work into preparing for this weekend.

"We did everything we could to try and make sure the Winter Makers Market could go ahead – but the damage to the structures was just too severe and simply couldn’t be fixed in time.

"The team here at The Piece Hall worked incredibly hard in challenging conditions to make sure our shops and courtyard could all re-open safely on Saturday afternoon and we’d urge everyone to support these local businesses in the run up to Christmas.

"Many of the market traders due here this weekend do have an online presence and where we can we’ll be sharing these with our followers so they still have the chance to check out their produce albeit virtually.”