An Ilkley businessman has thrown a lifeline to small business owners who were left “high and dry” after the downsizing of Skipton’s Handpicked Hall.
Several of the original businesses in part of the old Co-op, next to the bus station, are set to move into the former Craven College beauty academy, next to Coach Street car park.
Andrew Tapsell, of Ilkley, who bought the grade two listed building, formerly the town’s fire station, in June, said he hoped the newly named Showcase would become a co-operative of crafters, artisans and small start-up businesses.
“It was a happy coincidence that I bought the building just when these businesses were looking for new premises,” he said. “I think it’s a really lovely building.”
Mr Tapsell, who owns the town’s Tapsell and West Carpets, hopes the new emporium – whose name was inspired by a vintage music channel – will open in February.
He is creating spaces for up to 40 businesses and also plans a small cafe fronting on to Coach Street, an exhibition space upstairs for local artists and a glass-fusion studio and workshop.
Anita Omatseone, a clothes designer who also bought Skipton’s long-established Dales Sox business in December, left Handpicked Hall after it relocated to the old travel shop on Keighley Road.
Anita, who says she and many others still feel let down by the owner of Handpicked Hall, said she was looking ahead and was excited by the new premises.
“I feel very confident and excited it will work,” she said.
Jane Steele, who invested £10,000 into her glass-fusion studio at Handpicked Hall, is also set to move to The Showcase.
Jane, a teacher, who will run classes catering for all levels, said she was really optimistic.
“I am 100 per cent behind Andrew. The businesses that are coming over all know each other and we all help each other. The whole of the canal basin area is booming. It’s just been perfect timing for us.”
Teddy bear restorer Izzy Shaw is also looking at taking up space, as well as having a table at the town hall collectables market on Wednesdays.
Izzy, who has been restoring bears for more than 35 years and counts Bonhams and Hamleys as customers, ended her relationship with Handpicked Hall after being offered less space at its new site.
Having built up a successful business working from home, she had enjoyed being in Handpicked Hall talking to customers and had even had people visit her from America.
“I was being offered half the space for twice the cost. It just wasn’t what I wanted,” she said.
Anthony Blackburn, who set up Handpicked Hall in Skipton in June, said he wished all the businesses well.
“We are a new business and are learning a lot of lessons along the way,” he said.
He said it had always been a struggle to fill the original site and hoped the new site in the former Co-op Travel shop would be a success.
“A lot of the businesses did not like the way I was running it but we have got to make it pay,” he said.
He added he was still committed to Skipton.
Meanwhile, 18 businesses have signed up. Other businesses interested should contact Mr Tapsell on 07977 785858.