Flower power is the latest driver in a bid to help revive Stockton town centre’s retail offering after Teesside commercial property specialists took their investment to £1 million on a parade of shops.
Florist Claire’s Blooms is the latest store to open in the Dovecot Street parade refurbished by Stockton firm Mandale.
It’s one of 30 units in the town centre owned by the property specialists, who are keen to invest more over the next 12 months and beyond.
The opening of Claire’s Blooms has brought budding entrepreneur Claire Dalkin full circle after the experienced florist opened her first business venture in premises she worked in 10 years ago.
Claire’s Blooms has signed a long-term lease for a unit alongside high-end pet store Wags ‘n’ Whiskers, hair salon BLD and Alice’s Nail Bar, all let to the business owners by Mandale.
“It’s a fantastic little parade of shops,” said Mandale’s commercial property specialist Joe Darragh. “But we want to do much more.”
Darragh wants to place Mandale at the heart of helping Stockton town centre bounce back from the sort of issues that are hitting high streets across the UK.
He explained: “We’ve owned shops in town centre for 30 years but we became disheartened when we started to see units around the centre fall vacant.
“But our Dovecot Street parade now stands out as part of our portfolio of more than 30 shops across the town centre.
“We’re in it for the long haul and it’s fantastic to see Stockton Council investing in the High Street to ensure it continues to thrive.
“We’re keen to renovate more shops and work with the council to drive more people back into the town centre.”
The Mandale makeover has allowed Claire to open her first business venture but the mum-of-four is already thinking about who’ll succeed her – and her aptly-named nine-year-old daughter, Poppy Lilly Daisy, is keen to keep it in the family.
“I’d love my little girl to follow in my footsteps,” said Claire. “And with her name like hers, I think it’s meant to be.
“She’s already told me she wants to work three days a week as a florist and three days a week as a back-scratcher but she’d like Sundays off!”
While running her own florists was something Claire had always wanted to do, it took a touch of fate to inspire her to take the plunge.
Claire, who studied floristry at the former Stockton and Billingham College of Further Education, explained: “I was out shopping when I spotted that my old stomping ground was empty and available to let. I got in touch with Mandale and it was mine within two weeks of first seeing the shop.”
Mandale’s five-star renovation included new floors, ceilings, lighting, plastering and decoration, while Claire’s business partner brother, Craig Booth, carried out the joinery to create worktops and flower stands.
“It’s my vision to be known as the best florists in town,” added Claire, who can cater for every occasion, from weddings to funerals, with hand ties, baskets and hat boxes already proving popular.
“I don’t just want to be known for great flowers but as somewhere friendly that people can call in and feel welcome to take a look around and maybe stay for a chat and a cup of tea. It’s all about the customer service.”
“I was born and bred in Stockton so I’m really proud to playing a part in bringing back to life another of its quirky little streets off the High Street, which I think are leading the way their trendy little bars and independent shops.”