An independent business collective in Cardiff is to close after plans to redevelop the site it is based at were confirmed.
The collective, based at Clearwater Parade in Lakeside, was set up last November and enjoyed great success during lockdown, with its range of stores – including a bike repair shop and extravagant doughnut store – helping it to beat the coronavirus downturn. You can read the stories behind the businesses here.
But, nine months after setting up shop, all of the businesses in the collective are to close at the end of August as plans to redevelop the Parade site have been confirmed.
The Clearwater Falls development, which received approval from Cardiff council planning committee in January, will see 27 apartments built by Silver Crescent Developments, along with 11 retail units. While the independent pop-up stores currently at the parade have all been offered the chance to return to the site following the redevelopment, the new rent prices could be too high for many of them, and so are now looking to move elsewhere having built successful foundations in Lakeside.
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Shaz Harris, co-founder of chicken wing shop Wing Stack, said it was “a real shame” to leave Clearwater Parade, but he would look back on the last nine months fondly.
“We are disappointed to leave, of course.” he said. “All of us down here all started at the same time, so we’ve grown together and built up our businesses over the last nine months.”
“We knew when we moved in that this would happen, so it’s not a surprise to us at all, but it’s still a real shame because we’ve got to know the local community really well.
“Seeing it grow has been amazing – it’s sad now that everybody has to leave, but everyone has done really well with their businesses and that’s the main thing.”
Shaz, who founded the business alongside Jay Rahman-Miah, said that their customers were “gutted” that they were closing.
“Lots of people are disappointed that we’re leaving,” he said. “But that shows that we have contributed to the local community and become part of it. The people around here have been amazing and we’ve had some great support.”
Wing Stack, which offers burgers and vegetarian cauliflower wings alongside a range of flavoursome chicken wings, started off at the Corporation Yard site in Canton before Shaz and Jay set up shop in Lakeside late last year.
Despite lockdown, the site attracted people from all across the capital and on some nights, even sold out. After making a name for themselves at Clearwater Parade, the pair are now looking to go bigger.
“We want to expand, we want to be a franchise,” said Shaz. “We’re looking at a space on Whitchurch Road at the moment which would be great, but if we get the model right in the next few years, we’ve also got opportunities in London and Sheffield too.”
Neil Cowhey, who runs The Dropbar bike repair shop, said his nine months at Clearwater Parade have been “fantastic”.
“I’ve always wanted to open my own bike shop as I’ve always been a bike mechanic and have been on and off trying to get one going for years,” he said. “During lockdown, I approached Development Bank Wales and they financed the business, and the landlord here said we could have 12, maybe 20 weeks to find ourselves here.
“We always knew eventually we were going to go, so it’s not a shock at all. It was just a chance for us to build our business and get through the pandemic – so to be able to operate here until August has been fantastic.”
While he is sad to leave, Neil also knows that a change of location could help his business to grow even further.
“I’m split 50-50 between wishing I didn’t have to move but also knowing that this is a great opportunity,” he said. “I’ve worked in a lot of independent businesses and I know that you can’t stay static, you always have to keep growing a business in some kind of way.
“For us the natural progression is to obviously move into either a bigger property or somewhere where we can diversify, so we’ll be looking to serve food and coffee in the next place we move to, which will be in Llanishen.
“I’m bringing in something useful to a new community, so hopefully we’ll be successful there too.”
Ash Parfitt, who set up shop in Lakeside in December after starting doughnut shop Cardiff Dough & Co during lockdown, also said his company had big things planned for the future after an “amazing journey” at Clearwater Parade.
“I’m pretty sad about leaving this place,” he said. “It’s been a really good run, and it’s achieved exactly what it was meant to achieve – it’s been an amazing journey really.
“It’s quite sad for the community too, I think they will miss us a lot. This was empty for five years previously, so I think they’ve enjoyed having something like this on their doorstep and watching it grow.
“Once this place is renovated, it will be great for the future – but we’re on to bigger and better things now. We’ve got a new shop front in Cardiff and we’ve just bought a mobile unit too.
“We’ve managed to build our business really well here, and we’re just hoping to scale up now – but big things are definitely coming from us.”
While there is disappointment among the collective at leaving the Parade site, there is also hope that what they have achieved in the last nine months will inspire similar projects across the capital.
“All the businesses here were really given an opportunity to create a solid foundation,” said Shaz. “And hopefully they’ll go on to grow and be even more successful.
“The first year of a business is always the toughest time, but what we have done here shows what could happen if there were schemes out there where small businesses like ours could be offered lower rates and things like that.
“Everyone’s got a foundation now on which to build – we’re not all going to close completely because of this redevelopment, we want to continue to grow. This is hopefully just the start for all of us.”
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