BALLYMENA IS BOUNCING BACK FOR SPRING SHOPPING TRIPS
It has been almost 12 months since businesses in Ballymena voted ‘YES’ to at the re-ballot of Northern Ireland’s first Business Improvement District (BID) and since then the town has recorded positive footfall statistics and has welcomed 8 new independent businesses.
Two ladies clothing retailers Zarabella and Molly’s Soul, a gelato store Nugelato, sweet shop Scrummies and a children’s play town / café Honeybees Playtown are amongst the new businesses to open over the past year.
BID Manager, Emma McCrea believes that the town is best-known its bespoke make-up of independent stores, combined with the two major shopping centers located on the vibrant high street which offers a unique shopping and visitor experience, which has attracted further investment into the area. She said: “Ballymena has always been a premier shopping destination town and has attracted visitors from far and wide. Footfall is above the average of other Northern Ireland towns, and you can feel the buzz in the atmosphere as people get back to enjoying everything now on offer.
“It is a unique town in that over 70 per cent of the businesses are independent and we have such a vibrant mix of businesses from the established McKillens, to Camerons, Wallace and Wyse Byse, some of whom have been in the town for over 50 years.
“There’s a real sense of both community and trading confidence with a new artisan market, held on the last Friday of the month, and great new stores opening. With Spring in the air, retailers are looking forward to welcoming customers old and new back to enjoying one of the best shopping experiences in Northern Ireland.”
The wave of new independent stores is building on Ballymena’s popularity and success over the festive period, with the town enjoying one of the busiest Christmas trading periods on record, despite the challenging circumstances.
Cara-Lee Glenn owner of Zarabella commented: “I have worked in women’s fashion for over 20 years and always had a burning ambition to open my own business. I was absolutely delighted to find a recently refurbished, vacant unit in such a central location on Greenvale Street.
“Ballymena is a really lively, welcoming town and the reception to the business has been amazing. I am delighted with our performance so far and look forward to a bumper Spring/Summer. I truly appreciate all of the support from customers, old and new and we now look forward to launching our online platform later this month.”
Joanna Robinson, owner of Honeybees Playtown which opens this month said: “Our new business will offer an interactive role play experience for children combined with a café offering for parents and we cannot wait to open or doors. My family owns 360 Property and I know that there are lots of young families moving into the area attracted by new shops and great facilities and resources. We know that Honeybees Playtown will be a great addition to the fabulous High Street offering.”
Stephen Reynolds, Chairperson of Ballymena BID concluded: “This investment by our customers and the mutual support between local businesses and BID means our town is resilient, and that’s why we are to expand our offering with great confidence. Ballymena has always been open for business, and we are now going from strength to strength with brighter days ahead.”
Follow Ballymena Means on social media for updates on new businesses and more.
Photo caption: Pictured are Stephen Reynolds, Ballymena BID Chairperson, Matthew Cole, Scrummies, Stephen Clelland, Nugaleto, Chris & Joanna Robinson Honeybees Play Town, Yasmin Charley from Cookie Box.