Independent spirit – specialist stores in Harrogate give town shopping appeal

The innovation and passion that add up to the independent spirit among Harrogate's unique traders gives this spa town a very special appeal. We find out a little more about the people behind some new as well as established specialist enterprises

Baroque Hair Ltd

4-4a Kings Road, Harrogate, HG1 1BT01423 851400

This award-winning independent hair saloon has a unique style developed by a young, talented hair stylist Tom O’Brien and partner Terry Sowerby. Their success is down to attention to detail and emphasis on customer commitment and care. The salon’s product partnership with international company Aveda does not detract from their independence. ‘Baroque is about setting high standards both in the industry and as a small business in the community,’ says Tom. It’s also about bringing back a touch of decadence and glamour to an area of the service industry they feel has fallen by the wayside. ‘Baroque is an indulgent hideaway where clients know they are in good hands.’

Caroline Gardner Design

Montpellier Parade, Harrogate, HG1 2TJ01432

Caroline and husband Iain run an exclusive interior design business and base their success on individuality. Every design project is customised to each client and it’s this exclusivity that makes the difference, says Iain. The internet has its uses but nothing can compare to the ability to touch a fabric or see a true colour, he adds. Caroline, a former fashion buyer, who launched into interior design in 1996, adds: ‘It’s important to keep ahead of the game, continue to be creative, be different, keep evolving and never stand still. And always do your homework.’ The couple have two showrooms in Montpellier Parade displaying their trademark individually crafted furniture and home accessories. ‘You will not find anything here on the High Street or the internet,’ adds Iain.

ColdBath Toy Shop Ltd

Coldbath Road, Harrogate, HG2 0NU01423 7909886

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Across the road from Leng’s is a brand new independent shop – a toyshop, opened by children’s illustrator Simone Wood. She launched her business because of her passion for traditional toys and a desire to see children play in the old fashion way instead of playing commuter games. ‘I definitely think there is a place for real play,’ she says. Simone decided to set up in Coldbath Road because of its strong community. ‘I choose my products for the people who live around here. She supplies quality toys and gifts for children of all ages and looks for beautifully designed toys that are not only great for play but look good on the shelf at home too. She aims to eventually produce personally illustrated cards too. Personal service is an essential ingredient to a successful independent business, she believes.

Leng’s Greengrocer

36a Coldbath Road, Harrogate, HG2 0NA01423 503 815

This traditional style greengrocer was established in 1923 and is run today by Peter Schofield who has been with the business for seven years. It’s truly a family concern with great emphasis on supporting the community. Coldbath Road is busy but with a strict 20mph speed-limit and has a strong village feel. The eclectic mix of individual shops adds to its attraction especially for locals. ‘Independent shops and businesses are part of the community, more so, I would say, than supermarkets,’ says Peter. ‘Here, it’s like a village and we welcome the whole family, we even have shopping trolleys for children. I take as much local produce as possible. I have fruit and vegetables from Ripon, Knaresborough and Harrogate. What’s essential to the independent spirit? ‘Belief in your self,’ says Peter.

Caf� Marconi

2 Princes Square, Harrogate, HG1 1LX01423 567516

Harrogate is renowned for its tea rooms. Bettys of Harrogate springs to mind immediately, established for more than 70 years and a much-loved independent family business. But Caf� Marconi is very different. It is a chic, modern Italian-style basement coffee house which opened just over a couple of years ago and has built up a loyal following. ‘We are about serving authentic Italian, good flavoured coffee,’ says co-owner Sara Ferguson. ‘Quality is very important and the people of Harrogate appreciate quality. We have so many loyal customers of all ages. People meet their friends and family here.’ And what does it take to be a successful independent? ‘Some people say you are brave or stupid but you have to be 100 per cent dedicated, keep going, don’t give up.’