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From food to fashion, shops to services, York has a terrific family of independent businesses.

And now a new project is putting them on the map.

A pilot project launched on Monday (November 21) sees the creation of an Indie York website and map.

Between them they will help residents and visitors find the city’s independent shops, galleries, salons and eateries.

Already 30 businesses are featured, and plans are underway to expand that to more than 100. 

Great benefits

The launch of Indie York in January 2016. Photograph: Richard McDougall
The launch of Indie York in January 2016. Photograph: Richard McDougall

The York Independent Business Association (YIBA) set up Indie York in January after the Christmas 2015 floods hit local firms hard.

It is led by YIBA chairman, shop owner and independent councillor Johnny Hayes. He has an enviable track record in boosting York businesses, first helping Bishopthorpe Road land the title Best High Street in Britain, and now helping to turn round Micklegate’s fortunes.

“York’s independent businesses are equally as significant as York’s distinctive landmarks, attractions and cityscape,” says Cllr Hayes.

Johnny Hayes talks about the plans for Indie York
Johnny Hayes talks about the plans for Indie York

“The Indie York map and website will clearly identify these businesses by signposting their locations allowing visitors and residents to easily reference and find them.  

“This will greatly benefit all our independent businesses, especially those not in clear view, operating on small margins or unable to invest in advertising.”

At the launch in Bedern Hall, Cllr Hayes said: “We have probably got a bigger independent sector than any other city in the country.

“The independents are contributing vast amounts to this city, in terms of the rates they pay, the people they employ, all the money they return to the local economy.”

Ambitious project

York BID's Andrew Lowson tells the gathering why they are backing Indie York
York BID’s Andrew Lowson tells the gathering why they are backing Indie York

Funding for the pilot project comes from York Business Improvement District (BID).

Executive director of York BID Andrew Lowson said:

The independent businesses of York are vital to our city’s commerce and lend to its character which is a main attraction for so many visitors and shoppers. 

The work on the pilot will position YIBA to roll out an ambitious project that will positively increase the visibility and exposure of York’s independent businesses and offerings.

He said at the Bedern Hall launch: “What I like about Indie York is the idea of people coming together, celebrating independents where you get a lot of creativity and innovation.

“We have a fantastic independent offering which we probably do need to celebrate better than we do.”

A prototype Indie York map was shown at the meeting. The real thing will be available next spring at participating independent businesses, York Station and York Visitors Information Centre.

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