IT IS no secret that Britain’s town centres are in crisis, with multiple retailers closing on average 20 stores a day last year.
And according to research from professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the West of Scotland fared among the worst. Glasgow saw 18 shops disappear in 2012 and Paisley 13, while even Ayr saw a drop of two.
But in an era where liquidation, administration, relocation, and boarded-up shop fronts have become the norm, Carrick business brains are brimming with successful entrepreneurial ideas.
Sarah Redman, of Barrhill’s Creeside Farm, set up her charcuterie business only six months ago. But in only half a year her artisan cooking has attracted an unprecedented amount of attention.
January saw Sarah’s enterprise featured in the Scottish Farmer; February saw her named one of only three winners of a weekly Twitter campaign to boost the profile of women in business; and just this month demand for her produce necessitated a move to a commercial premises.
Formerly operating Creeside Charcuterie from her kitchen, mum-of-two Sarah (pictured left with her family) took on a commercial kitchen at former school Glentrool Hall last week.
Now able to supply restaurants, delis, and shops nationwide, Sarah has already secured “foodie heaven” Formartine’s, in Aberdeenshire; infant Glasgow deli business Billington’s; and prestigious Brixton charcuterie Cannon and Cannon as stockists.
“It has been amazing,” she said. “The response has surprised me. And the support from friends, family, local businesses and other food businesses has been fantastic.
“I found a niche in the market that people were not already doing, and it’s through hard work and promoting myself via social media that I have built up a brand quite quickly. Word of mouth is always the best way, and after that it comes down to taste.”
And Sarah is not the only Carrick citizen using her talents to begin a brand new enterprise.
Local craftsmen Jamie MacDonald and Noel Porter upgraded their skills as painters and decorators to take on the furniture trade, setting up The Masters from Ballantrae just before Christmas.
The Ballantrae-based business sees them combine their skills to upgrade and re-furbish items of furniture with a hand-painted new look – and they say their entrepreneurial spirit has helped them weather the fiscal climate.
“The economic downturn has affected us in a minor sort of way in that there is not a lot of work in our painting and decorating side of things,” said Noel (pictured above). “But we are finding that our furniture business is filling that gap.
“We did pieces of furniture for people but not on the scale that we are doing now. We always wanted to get our talent shown; and a combination of reaction from people that have seen our work and our love for old furniture makes us want to do more.”
Information and contact details for Creeside Charcuterie are available from the business’ website, and any restaurants, delis, and farm shops looking to stock the Redman’s artisan range are urged to get in touch.
Examples of The Masters from Ballantrae’s work is on show at 76 Main Street, Ballantrae and on their website, where contact details for Jamie and Noel are also available.
As well as furniture for sale, the Masters are happy to undertake work commissioned by clients and can provide guidance on ideas, designs and colours if desired.