The Ridings has been at the heart of the city’s high street for 35 years.
And as has been the situation for all traders the shopping centre has felt the impact of the ever changing trends and needs of shoppers.
It has had to adapt to meet those needs.
Currently there are more than 20 independent retailers and arts groups operating in the centre helping it to try and reclaim its place as part of an ever-changing high street.
As shoppers move online and town centres feel the pinch, the independents in The Ridings – one of the first shopping centres of its kind in Europe – are bringing their own personal touches for shoppers.
The Express is showcasing what’s on offer in the district as part of its Love Your High Street campaign in the run-up to Christmas.
And that is why we are backing Small Business Saturday at The Ridings – an national event to promote traders – with a range of offers.
Discounts will be announced in the run-up to the day, which will take place Saturday, December 1.
As well as regular shops, the Ridings has opened its units to artists from the district and craftspeople to showcase their work.
The Artworld Gallery gives painters a way to exhibit their work and put works up for sale.
Made and Found was opened last year as a pop up shop for traders to exhibit their crafts, ranging from blankets to ceramics.
After a successful three month trial period, the store is now a long term tenant of the centre and works as a co-operative for 16 individual businesses.
Lee Appleton, centre director at the Ridings said: “We’re immensely proud of our independents and the point of difference that they bring to the centre and to Wakefield.
“Several are ran on a co-operative basis, which means that very small, independent businesses have the opportunity to sell their goods in a way which lets them enjoy greater flexibility and the support of being part of a wider collective of similar businesses.
“In addition to our co-operatives, our independents all work together to support each other, for example through promoting each other on social media, which gives the centre a real community feel and a local, friendly atmosphere which often isn’t found elsewhere.”
Made and Found
Made and Found is run by collective of artists who sell handmade gifts and take turns in charge of the store.
Gifts range from blankets to ceramics, and postcards to baby clothes.
Sarah Jones-Morris, who makes ceramics, said “You can’t go anywhere else and buy the things you can here.
“Most people who come in appreciate that the things we sell here are one-offs and I think a lot of people are looking for that nowadays.
“People want something that is a bit different and more personal.”
Morgana and Hellraiser
Bea Firth and Sheridan Crompton run Morgana and Hellraiser.
They combined their alternative clothes and music shops when they moved into a unit in the Ridings.
Both previosuly traded at other spots in the city centre. It’s not a shop you would confused with any other. Sheridan said: “We like to think we bring something to the Ridings that other centres don’t have. There are people around who still want browse through CDs, records and clothes rather than just look at an image online.”
Fresh Smoothie Bar
Brothers Chris and and Greg Grala have run Fresh Smoothie Bar at the bottom of the Ridings for 12 years.
The pair took over the bar after moving from the Polish city Kalisz, which Chris described as “a small city like Wakefield”.
He said times had become more difficult with closure in recent years but he was invested in and committed to the city.
He said: “A high street is the heart of a town. If you lose them then a town loses its soul. There’s a lot on offer in Wakefield.”
Artworld Gallery in the Ridings showcases and sells paintings from artists in the district and beyond.
The top floor unit at the centre has been used by the district’s art community to present their work for five years. Manager Sandra Bradbury said: “It represents artists from all kinds of places around here. It’s something you could only get here. It’s always exciting when artists bring their work in. It’s brilliant to give them somewhere to exhibit – and occasionally sell – their work.”
Hype is one of the more longstanding stores in the Riding having traded for 20 years.
Owner Irfan Mohammed said he is looking to bring a bit of “Peaky Blinders style” to the city.
Michael Bailey, who works at the store, said: “We want to bring something smarter to Wakefield, rather than trainers and tracksuits, something different like tweed and waistcoats. Smartwear is the way forward.”
The store prides itself on providing expert advice to customers.