A 33-year-old business owner from Crosspool has landed herself in the final 25 nominees out of 1000’s for the 2019 National Best Small Shops Awards.
Hellen Steirling-Baker, owner of children’s boutique, Small Things, Crookes, will be venturing into London on November 5th to meet with a panel of expert judges at the House Of Commons.
Hellen told us how she felt when she got the email telling her she is through to the final stages of the competition.
“We were told to check our inbox on 23 September and if we were successful we would get an email.
“I was constantly refreshing my phone all day and had truly given up hope.
“But on the 24th at nine o’clock in the morning I saw the email, my heart skipped a beat, I just couldn’t believe it.”
Hellen believes this opportunity will prove to those who have doubted her that independent shops are on the rise.
“I’m sick of hearing that the high street is dead. It really is not.
“All my business mentors warned me that I’d shoot myself in the foot by setting up a shop.
“Now I have massively proven them wrong.”
After setting up her business selling eco-conscious children’s wear and toys as a pop-up shop at markets, she realised the need for a physical, tactile shop was growing.
“It’s true, the high street is changing but it’s about adapting to a space people want to be in.”
Small Things prides itself on not just being a shop.
Hellen invites her customers to browse her shelves and then stay for a hot drink at the back of her store.
“We are going back in time, shops now need to be somewhere you can go in and have a chat and a cup of tea and get to know the owner.
“It shouldn’t just be a transactional thing.
“Community is and should always be at the heart of any business – it’s a use it or lose it situation.”
In the lead up to the final, Hellen hopes her costumers will continue to support independent shops.
“The more people there are who are passionate about shopping local will create a snowball effect.
“High streets across Sheffield will continue to thrive.”
The awards this year aimed to celebrate consumer engagement and how independent retailers promote the speciality of their businesses to their local community.
Whilst also celebrating personal commitment, innovation and community engagement.