Independent traders are pointing the way to the revival of Middlesbrough’s town centre

Ed Hamilton-Trewhitt has just opened the Brickyard Bakery in the Dundas Shopping Centre and along the mall in the Indoor Market Nicole Bean has launched her second shop.

It is called Altanative and will sell textiles, clothing, books and small items of furniture. Business is going so well for Nicole that she is also planning to refurbish her original shop Alta Ego which she brought to the Dundas Indoor Market in 2017 and is across the way from her new unit.

“The new shop will have the same vibe and same feel, I’ll be just selling bigger stuff and there will be more of it,” said Nicole. I’d had a couple of places before but it’s definitely best here. I’ve been trying to expand for years because I was outgrowing the space I’ve got. I was looking at some of the available units in Middlesbrough town centre, but I don’t want to move out of here.

“All the tenants are well looked after and our rent covers all our bills. There’s security and different services as well. I love the market and everyone who’s in here. It’s a real community. We’re like a little family.”

Nicole, 41, has enlisted the help of members of her real family to help with her growing business. Her parents Magie and Dave, niece Piper and friend Eugene Evans – who designed and built its distinctive interior – will all work in Altanative.

“They knew I wanted to expand, so they’re really behind it. Everybody likes being involved in it. My mum was probably where I get my hippie side from. It all comes from her,” she said.

Nicole worked hard during the pandemic, keeping in touch with customers and making deliveries, and believes that people became more interested in the spiritual side of life. That created a bigger demand for the products she sells in Alta Ego, which she describes as “a small pagan and spiritual shop selling all manner of esoteric goods and gifts”.

The news about Nicole’s new shop follows hot on the heels of both the opening of the Brickyard Bakery and the expansion of Jean’s Kitchen, the cornerstone of the Dundas Indoor Market which has served up tasty traditional meals for nearly a quarter of a century.

Market Manager David Harris said: “It’s great to see two of our well-established businesses doing so well. In both cases they’re successful because customers can’t buy what they sell anywhere else. Middlesbrough town centre has been badly affected by the closures of some really big name stores, but we believe that independent traders are the key to its recovery.”

By Mark Adair – Correspondent, Bdaily

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