Gordon and local Labour councillors have been striking a chord with a series of visits to local businesses across the town for Small Business Saturday.
Now in its fifth year, Small Business Saturday is a key date in the diary for Gordon - this year he visited an independent trampoline park, a guitar shop and two local coffee shops – one in South Shore and the other in the town centre. As a Shadow Minister the Blackpool South MP was part of Chuka Umunna’s frontbench Business team which was instrumental in kick starting the initiative to boost trade for small businesses when it was launched in the UK in 2013.
Gordon started the day at the Ascent Trampoline Park on Cornford Road with Clifton Councillor Luke Taylor, who backed the business when it opened in Blackpool 16 months ago. Gordon and Luke met with manager Dale Pace (pictured), who showed them around the facilities which, apart from the trampoline, have a number of other stations testing agility and strength, being used by young people and families on a busy Saturday morning under the watchful eye of Ascent staff.
Gordon said: “It’s great to have this set of facilities here now in Blackpool where Ascent also can cater for sessions for community groups, and also schools - trampolining is one of the physical activities included we were told in the National Curriculum . The range of activities offered seem to be attracting a good cross section
of people of all ages and abilities - well worth people trying out the Park over the Christmas and New Year periods.”
Gordon then joined Squires Gate Councillor Alistair Humphreys on a visit to Darren Matthews (pictured), who has set up Just Guitars – a specialist guitar shop on Highfield Road. As well as selling and repairing them, he is now teaching people wanting to learn how to play and has started making his own collection of handmade Wood based guitars.
Gordon commented: “Darren's love of guitars has taken him all over the world and he is now sharing his experience here in Blackpool. I was really impressed with the design and craftsmanship he has put into them and the bespoke Wood ones individually crafted are real works of art. It's great to see Darren's shop joining the wide variety of popular businesses on Highfield Road guitars and his passion really shone through when we spoke to him.”
A few doors up from Just Guitars, he and Alistair afterwards joined friends Ann Mortimer and Judith Costello at Buttermilk for a cup of coffee and homemade cake. They met owner Helen Ward who has been running the business for two years with the help of her mother Kathleen.
Gordon said: “As soon as you walk through the front door there was a wonderful homely atmosphere at Buttermilk. It was really nice to chat with Helen about her new venture over coffee. Great homemade cakes add to a great place to socialise and relax.”
He ended the day in the town centre at Shaw's Cafe Bar on Clifton Street with work by local artist Robin Ross and photographers Kate Yates and Dawn Mander. He saw Robin's latest exhibition “21 Days”, a range of colourful screen prints based on being an artist in residence in Lisbon recently. Gordon also visited the pop up shop “It’s A Gallery” on 34 Talbot Road, where they and other local artists are exhibiting screen prints and other works between now and every Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Christmas.
Gordon added: "The range of originality and creativity shown both by the businesses I’ve visited for Small Business Saturday along with the work Geoff Reeves and his colleagues at the Council are doing with Get Started to encourage literally hundreds of start-ups in the town, testifies to how important and positive this is in nurturing local talent contributing to the town's economy
“I will continue to champion small businesses - across Blackpool having run one myself before I became an MP and it’s great to see local independent artists such as Robin, Dawn and Kate along with small businesses like Shaw’s Café Bar working in collaboration to celebrate our growing art and cultural contribution in this area.”