OPEN LETTER TO GMPF #1

This is an open letter to GMPF, our business landlord.  It is highly probable that it will be the first of many such letters over the next 18 months.

Dear GMPF,

Ten years ago this month I moved to Chorlton as a bit of a stop gap whilst I figured out what to do with my life.  And, as life has panned out in the unexpected way that it does, I never left and I am now happily settled, raising two children and running a successful business in this strange but loveable suburb.

A heatwave was just kicking in on the day I came here back in 2006 which made the whole exciting move even more full of promise.  We were in a whole new world of beer gardens, open mic nights and roof top BBQs!  I remember going off to explore my new surroundings and stumbling upon the precinct and wondering if I had stepped into a 70’s verion of the Twilight Zone.  And I don’t mean that as a negative – for me it felt special and was somewhere full of untapped potential.  I always knew that it would inevitably be updated at some point, but I could very clearly picture a way to do it and still retain some of its nostalgic charm.

In the time I have lived here, Chorlton precinct has had at least 3 owners to my knowledge.  And over the years, rumours of redevelopment have been ever present.  I remember public consultations and architectural plans aplenty, but then the recession hit and all these plans were, I guess, put on the back burner. 

For me, the timing was perfect.  In 2011 I had my first child which gave me the opportunity to see those shop units in the precinct sitting empty and I began to formulate a long term plan – I knew by then that I wanted a business in Chorlton precinct and I was going to find a way to make it happen, no matter what.

Fast forward to the present day and that goal has been achieved…for now.  I understood when I signed my lease that it expired in 2018 but I didn’t worry because I don’t think I fully appreciated the potential that my business had back then.  I guess I thought I’d be just content to have a shop for a few years and I didn’t really consider too far ahead.  But time is ticking fast and battle mode is setting in.

I now have 3 children – a girl one, a boy one and a shop one.  I unashamedly admit to loving the non-human one just as much as the human ones.  The roots of all 3 are connected to the precinct to some degree and I can’t accept that in less than 2 years it could all be over if all the spaces are allocated to large corporations.  We have all worked hard to create something special in a part of Chorlton which we truly love.  The Chorlton Art Market belongs in the precinct.

My fear is that the redevelopment will see the precinct turned into a soulless identikit plastic mall when I know that it has the potential to be something truly special and something which could be a real gem for Chorlton.  As anyone who has ever lived here will tell you, Chorlton is a beautifully weird place, filled with people with a great sense of social pride and I believe that you, the landlords, have an amazing opportunity to create something that will sit pride of place in your property portfolio.

When the time comes, please consider the fate of my family business – a business which supports over 60 other local people and a business which is loved by an ever-growing customer base.  In a place like Chorlton, with a bit of imagination something ‘different’ has the potential to thrive…but only if the opportunities are there. Please don’t forget about us when you make your plans.

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The First Market of 2014

Finally, doing this market thing is beginning to become an enjoyable experience, rather than a super stressful one!

The end of February saw the Chorlton Art Market in its new home at The Post Box Cafe.  Having the market here, rather than in its old home in the precinct, presented me with far fewer challenges than I had for the previous markets.  This made the organising of everything so much easier and has given me a new wave of positivity.  And even I felt that the market went pretty well so it must of not been too bad.  You can read Ghostly Tom’s great blog about the actual day here:  http://t.co/QpteEviiri.  Thanks very much for doing that Tom!

It is a shame that things didn’t end up working out with the precinct plan because it is something I had dreamt about doing for many years.  Some may call me odd (and that they do!), but I felt very passionatly about making the ‘ugly’ precinct beautiful and I’m sad that I won’t be getting to fulfil my vision.  Rumour has it that the precinct is actually being sold for redevelopment after all, so it seems the game is up.  I just wish I started doing all this a few years ago.  But doing all this has ignited my interest in retail and town centre development so there is a positive side to it all (although certain things worry me greatly, but I’ll save all that for another time!)

An issue that has been making me think, plan and work extra hard over the last couple of months has been thus: what to do with the remainder of the Kickstarter money?  My original plan is now defunct.  There is obviously no point in creating loads of murals in the precinct if the place is going to be torn down.  I am annoyed because I was assured by the estate managers of the precinct that there were no plans for the development to be sold off, and they have not directly informed me that this is no longer the case.  I have a duty to uphold my Kickstarter pledge and it worried me that I now had to change the plans…but, I worry no longer for I have come up with a very exciting plan.  All will be revealed over the next couple of months.  I feel very confident that people will love this idea and I believe it will have a really positive impact on Chorlton.

Anyway, I’ll sign off with a little plug for the next Chorlton Art Market which takes place on Saturday 29th March – a ‘Baby, Child & Family’ special.  We have got so many exciting stall holders lined up with a great range of artwork and handmade products.  Please take a look at our Facebook page to see photos and links to all the members of the market family: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chorlton-Art-Market/1423861817836800