Finally our plan is underway. It really is time.
As I have written before, we have, over the last 12 months, realised that we do not belong in the place where we currently live. In some ways this is upsetting because it is the place where we have lived for the past decade, and it is the place where we have started both our family and our successful and wonderful business. The suburb of Manchester where we are living now is seen as a desirable area with many positive aspects to it. For many people it would be a dream come true to live here.
After having our first child in 2011 I became self employed and eventually in 2013 I set up The Chorlton Art Market. By November 2014 my partner had given up his job and together we opened up our amazing shop, selling the work and collections of local artists, craftspeople and vintage traders. It was by no means an easy feat making the shop happen and there were many, many times when a less crazy person would of given up. But we are so proud to be able to say that, against all the odds, we managed to turn our dream into a reality and we now run an incredible shop in the heart of Chorlton.
But…sadly it has become very apparent to us that the amount of work needed to keep the shop both afloat and thriving is incompatible with actually enjoying life and being able to spend quality time together as a family. We will never have the opportunity to buy our own home in the area or improve the quality of our lives. And as most people will be aware, the state of the British High Street is a perilous wild west world where businesses have to fight every day just to keep their doors open – even long established mega businesses such as Woolworths and HMV have hit the deck – but the challenges for independents like us are even greater.
The High Street has two main main enemies: The Internet and Business Rates. Some Chorlton businesses also have the added pressure from Excel Parking but I won’t bore you with that issue here (although it has played a part in our decision to leave Chorlton and cease running a business here). Our main hurdle is high rent and ridiculous Business Rates and it is only set to get worse. Running the shop and covering our costs is a challenge enough already and with the rates set to increase in April it is about to get a whole lot harder. I worry about it all of the time. It is hard to convey how much of a struggle it is to run our shop without sounding whingey but, in truth it is pretty much killing me.
I do not like giving up on things at all and I do feel bad for knowing that we will be giving up on the shop at some point in the not too distant future. But there comes a time when you simply don’t have the energy to continue fighting just to keep your head above water any more. I want to work hard, but I simply want to be able to enjoy life more. Looking after the kids and running the shop has at times been virtually impossible.
These are the reasons why we have decided to move away and start a new kind of life. Living the city life for so long has made my partner and I realise that we need very little to make us happy. We do not yearn for luxury or a life free from hard work, we just want security and the opportunity to be able to benefit from our hard work. We will not be able to achieve the lifestyle we want in our current location but we know we can make it happen in Scotland.
We will make our dream come true no matter what, but we do have a little crazy plan to try and speed things along. Please give our campaign a read and if it is a vision you can share, then please consider donating to us. We understand that it might attract a bit of negativity so we’re prepared for that. But the beauty is that we are not asking for something for nothing – if you already regularly visit Scotland for holidays, then donating to us will actually save you money in the long term! Read more for more information…