Blackpool skate shop on brink as tram works derail trade

A digger at work outside Big Woody's skate shop

A Blackpool skate shop is on the point of closing after its owners said roadworks has killed off their passing trade.

Big Woody’s in Talbot Road, which sells clothing, skateboards and scooters, could be shut within weeks as owners Woody and Andrea say hardly anyone comes into the store since the tram works began outside.

Andrea and Woody from Big Woody's Skate Shop

They say the barriers outside are putting people off coming to the street and now they have had to lay off their two members of staff.

Woody said: “We have been in business for 16 years, eight years at this shop. We moved into town from Poulton for the footfall and we had been doing well.

“But now we can sit here all day and see just one person if we are lucky.”

a said: “Until last November we were fine. Each year business was building, in the period from May to October every month was a plus month for us and it was looking good for Christmas.

“In this business you have to order your stock in three months in advance and we had got it all in for Christmas, but we are still sitting on that stock now. It happened instantly, as soon as the road works started.”

Woody said: “The only people coming in to us now are those who know all about us and know what they are looking for. So we might as well be open on an industrial estate. To keep a shop of this size going with the rents and everything you need the passing trade and that has gone.”

Andrea added: “Last weekend we had to let our full time member of staff go. We are devastated.

“Derek had been with us for years and is an awesome worker.

“Our part time worker left two months ago. Both are keen skaters and loved working here. It is hearbreaking

"We need something doing about it, proper signs giving clear directions and maybe adverts to tell people which shops are here.”

The shop is the only dedicated skate and scooter shop in this part of the county with nearest alternatives in South Lakes, Liverpool and Manchester. Woody said they loved sponsoring events at Ramp City Skate Park in Cropper Road but have had to cut back on that.

Andrea said they were now thinking of giving up the retail trade for good; "I am not sure we want to move the shop, we will have to think . The only thing offering a bit of hope is that skateboarding will be in the 2020 Olympics which will give the sport a huge lift and get more people interested and have a positive effect."

Woody added: "You know a street is in trouble when even the charity shops are closing. We have lost two since the work began so you can see how bad things are. The barriers make it look as if everything is closed.

"The Blackpool BID did pay for a couple of banners to be put up on the railings, but when the workmen move the barriers, the banners just get lost.

James Woods from the neighbouring business, Blackpool Body Piercing Clinic, said: “It is terrible now.

“At each end it says Talbot Road closed. It should say, closed to traffic but open to pedestrians. I have seen people confused and turning away.”

Stephen Pierre, from the nearby Galleon Bar, said: “I have visited many small businesses, who have all stated that their trading figures are down significantly compared to this time last year.

“The road closures, with industrial diggers and machinery, barriers etc have had a profound impact on footfall on the whole of town centre.

"Relocating utilities, removing historic tramway infrastructure and then re-installing a new track framework is a massive undertaking . The Council have clearly underestimated the damage caused to businesses of all sizes. In an age of online shopping, the high street needs all the help it can get ”

The tram extension is set to open by the end of 2020.

A council spokesman said: “We are actively working with the businesses on Talbot Road to look at ways of supporting trade during the town centre improvement works.

“We are keen to get the message across that all of these businesses are open as usual and as well as reviewing signage in the vicinity we will also be undertaking various pieces of marketing activity on their behalf.”

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