Small businesses need local support if they are to thrive

The team at Pot-A-Doodle Doo - Caroline Ibbetson, Michelle Curtis-Stoddard and Layla Roberts
The team at Pot-A-Doodle Doo - Caroline Ibbetson, Michelle Curtis-Stoddard and Layla Roberts

Giving it all up and becoming your own boss - it sounds like an enticing prospect, especially after a bad day at work.

But it is not as idyllic as it sounds, and getting a small business off the ground takes dedication and hard work.

Michelle Curtis-Stoddard knows all about it - the good and bad points.

Her craft shop Pot-a-Doodle Doo in Prospect Street is celebrating its fourth anniversary, but it all stems from an idea which came about more than a decade ago.

She said: “On camping trips in Devon, when my daughters, Lauren and Hannah, were little, one very rainy day we came across a paint a pot shop, and we all loved it.

“The pots they created that day still have pride of place in my home 13 years later so the seed of an idea was sown.

“Four years ago, the stars aligned and a number of pivotal events, including a realisation due to health issues, that my 20-year teaching career was not going to sustain my family and me long-term, pushed me to make the jump into self-employment.

“Bridlington with its loyal locals and happy holidaymakers seemed to be the perfect place to get crafty and so Pot-a-Doodle Doo was born.

“I wanted to bring something unique and special to our town a place to bring families and friends together, a creative environment for all, big and small, a chance to make the most unique, personalised keepsakes and gifts and to have some fun to encourage children and grown ups to express themselves creatively.

“Every piece of pottery created has a story behind it a story of love, friendship, marriage, birth, loss - all beautiful, all precious and we are lucky enough to get to share in those stories.”

Turning an idea into a reality is not something which can be done without plenty of attention to detail though.

Michelle added: “I did my market research thoroughly before investing my savings into Pot-a-Doodle Doo I chose my location carefully and worked hard to create something unique that I felt both locals and holidaymakers would enjoy.

“I saw a gap in our high street and offered something new to Bridlington. Running a business in a seasonal town can be tough.

“Promoting a business, reminding people you are here and attracting new customers, is a very time-consuming challenge, however small, independent family businesses will only survive in our high streets if local people vote with their feet to keep them.”

Pot-a-Doodle-Doo benefits from the fact that unlike some small businesses, it is not facing a battle with internet rivals who can undercut them. After all, you can’t paint a pot on your computer.

But Michelle says local people need to celebrate the fact Bridlington is not flooded with high-street names.

“Bridlington is not a faceless high street of big nationals,it’s a fabulous eclectic mix including many individual, stylish and quirky family businesses where people have invested their own hard-earned cash into providing services & retail opportunities right on our doorstep.

“Shopping local means keeping our money within Bridlington as much as possible. Every pound you spend in a Bridlington independent shop either is re-invested to bring new offerings to our town or is spent in another shop in our town.”

There are still challenges, and Michelle puts the lack of parking at the top of her list of improvements she would like to see, alongside more evnts to get people into the shopping area and supporting local businesses.

She added: “Being self-employed in a seasonal town can be a struggle.

“The hours can be very long and there is no minimum wage orsick pay for self-employed people.

“My toughest battle has been the same as many families I know, the juggling of raising a family and work commitments. That doesn’t lessen because you are your own boss and I had the added complication of trying to provide for my family while battling with fibromyalgia and a pituitary tumour.

“However, the rewards far outweigh. I have an amazingly supportive team of staff - the friendliest, most loyal people without whom Pot-a-Doodle Doo wouldn’t be the place it is.