SUNDERLAND Business Improvement District has praised city centre companies for diversifying and finding new ways to operate during the current COVID-19 crisis.
Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at the BID, said that firms in the city were showing their “creativity and determination” under extremely difficult circumstances.
Recently BURGeR (sic) based at Frederick Street has re-opened to offer a take-out service, following in the footsteps of other popular city centre restaurants such as 2 Church Lane, which has teamed up with Station Taxis to offer a delivery service.
Luciano’s Italian restaurant is now also offering a takeaway and delivery service, while the Funky Indian is delivering both vegetarian and meat platters. The Point is currently re-scheduling its full programme of events, most of which will now take place in the autumn.
Managing Director, Andrew Golding, has also offered 100 tickets for two of the events – a performance by comedian Johnny Vegas(11 October) and Martin Kemp’s Christmas Party on 19 December – to NHS staff who email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The company has created a number of weekly online activities including Chaplins’ home quiz every Thursday and an online poker game every Friday.
It’s other venues, Arizona and Ttonic Bar and Kitchen, are also running a variety of activities including karaoke, DJ home parties and cocktail classes, with information on all the events available on Facebook.
Other plans by Andrew include a COVID-19 Appreciation Day Parade for frontline workers in 2021 which he is hoping other businesses across the city will get on board to support the event.
“Firstly and most importantly we are supporting our staff and customer the best ways we can and have been doing that since the closure of our venues,” he said.
“Recently we decided to clear out any stock that is likely to get out of date before we reopen so we have donated this to the local food banks, items like crisps, nuts, juice and food.
“Nobody could have been prepared for this situation so we just need to find ways of getting through it together.”
City centre business Jack and Jill Babywear, which has been at Jacky Whites Market since the 1970s, has set up www.jackandjillonline.com – selling via the internet for the first time. Furniture store Harrison and Brown is posting videos about its accessories, which can be bought and are being delivered to customers.
Other Sunderland based companies which already have a very strong online presence are continuing to promote their services, including clotheswear shops Designer Childrenswear, Aphrodite, vintage menswear retailer Port Independent, Studio B and Bou-Chique – which is also running Facebook live sessions– with the added incentive of offering a range of discounts.
Shops selling essentials including Rob The Butcher at Blandford Street and Thoburns greengrocers and Ibbitson’s both at Jacky Whites Market are also offering a delivery service.
“This is an extremely difficult time for everyone,” said Sharon.
“The BID is still here to offer whatever help and support we can, offering advice and keeping businesses aware of what is available to them, along with raising awareness about the new services.
“They are doing a fantastic job in finding new ways to keep operating.”