Localism at its finest as shops fight back

editorial image

Invest in your town, invest in your future.

A simple message that has caught the imagination in Scarborough.

The Totally Locally movement was not conceived here, it is not the biggest ever seen but the Scarborough group are certainly the most passionate.

In less than six months it has gone from fewer than six people to a collection of more than 250 local, independent businesses who are hell-bent on bringing vibrancy and joy back to our coastal high street.

“All we wanted to do was to get businesses talking to each other,” said Jo Swift, one of the founders of the movement, from Mainprize’s Seafood.

“After our first meeting we hoped that we would get maybe 30 people taking part,” added co-founder Una Beaumont.

“We now have more than 250 people taking part and it is beyond what we could have dreamed.”

The group launched their first set of Fiver Fest offers in October, not thinking it would come to much.

A number of independent businesses were approached to see if they wanted to do a £5 offer for a month.

More than 100 signed up for the first week and the number continued to grow and grow.

Chris Fairchild, who first raised the idea of starting up Totally Locally in the town and runs Fairchild’s at The Cheese Board, said: “There were so many businesses that I just did not know existed.

“I would say that about half of the businesses we are involved with are people who work from their home, craftsmen and what not.

“It has given these people a chance to get to know one another. Talking to each other is the most important thing. There are shops I just used to walk past but now I know who works there and I’ll pop in for a chat.”

Chris Sands, founder of the Totally Locally Movement, told the Scarborough News that Scarborough was a wonderful example of how the movement works.

He will be visiting the area next week to meet with representatives from Scarborough, Whitby and Malton to congratulate them on their successes.

He said: “When Totally Locally started in 2009 it was just a way to try and do something different in Calderdale.

“We now have 60 towns in the UK signed up, more than 20 in Australia, we have one just about to start up in Kentucky and I have just got back from New Zealand where they are about to launch as well.

“It is driven by the will and the dedication of the people involved and I think Scarborough, and Whitby, show this.

“They are wonderful examples for other towns looking to get involved.”

Chris takes no money from Totally Locally, instead he 
released the information and help free online to see how it would work.

“It was sort of like an experiment,” he said.

“An answer to things like the Mary Portas towns where you have people saying there is nothing they can do for a high street with £100,000.

“Well, we estimate that the costs of being a Totally Locally town are about £800 a 
year, pretty much all printing costs.

“We don’t have chairmen or minutes or are run by councils, it is just about people working together, being social, keeping it fun.”

In a first for any Totally Locally group Scarborough have joined up with Stepney Hill Farm to run a pioneering allotment project.

Jo said: “We have signed up to have 10 allotments at Stepney Hill Farm.
They have been give to us for free by the Tysons and Ashley has also said he will buy 50 per cent of the produce grown to sell in his farm shop and then the rest can be sold be the 
Totally Locally members who grew it.

“An allotment was something we had in mind when we were coming up with ideas and now it is a reality.

“We are just trying different things and trying to keep up the enthusiasm.

“We want Totally Locally in Scarborough to almost look after itself. People are going to be looking after different areas of the town and co-ordinating things.

“The more people that are involved the better.”

Plans are now being finalised for the group’s first wedding fayre, with a venue about to be announced and plenty of businesses already signed up.

Another round of offers is due to start in February and the group is looking to join forces with other Totally 
Locally schemes in Malton and Whitby to run joint events in the future.

The Malton Totally Locally scheme is one of the longest running in the region and has proved to be a great success in drawing people to the Ryedale area. Over Christmas Whitby came up with the pioneering idea of using its beach chalets to host a spectacular and hugely successful Christmas market.

There is no doubt that through groups like Totally Locally high street independent traders will not die out.

“As long as there is the enthusiasm then Totally Locally will be around for a long time,” said Jo. “This is just the beginning.”