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Making it work: Ballymena store supporting local crafters

Midtown Makers Manager, Jim Stevenson

As the Covid pandemic continues, one local craft and gift shop has paid tribute to the continued support and dedication of its clients and customers.

Opened in 2014 as part of the Ballymena Business Centre project, Midtown Makers has firmly established itself as a hive of activity and support for local crafters and a driving force in the regeneration of the town centre.

Located on Church Street in Ballymena and showcasing the talents of over 60 crafters, the popular shop has had to rapidly adapt to ongoing changes and restrictions to ensure it remains at the forefront of all things arts and crafts related while still providing unrivalled customer service.

Midtown Makers Manager, Jim Stevenson, says the impact of Covid-19 has reinforced just how important everyone involved with the shop is.

“Midtown Makers is so much more than a craft shop. It is a meeting place, a support network and a place for people to share ideas and just have a chat.

“Before Covid, we offered a personal experience, right through from crafter to customer. That is something we have strived to continue throughout the pandemic. A happy customer is one that returns, and I find that getting to know my customers and having a conversation with them or sharing an email is the personal touch they are looking for in a local business.

“It’s that unique relationship that local businesses have with their customers that is so important and it must be protected. Obviously, with social distancing measures, we are currently unable to offer our very popular craft sessions which have helped so many feeling the effects of isolation and loneliness.

“But we still have a duty of care to others and we have increased our social media presence in recent months to ensure the business continues but that we also maintain these essential links with the local community and those who need our support most right now.”

“During lockdown, we completed a sale of six original pictures to a customer in England which was a great achievement. He was originally from Church Street, so it was lovely to hear his story,” he explained.”

Midtown Makers on Church Street, Ballymena

Jim added he feels a responsibility for the crafters and has urged people to support their local businesses during these difficult times.

“I want to see all my crafters do well, they deserve their talent and hard work to be rewarded. Midtown Makers is putting jobs into the town and keeping money in the town. We should support our town, particularly in these times,” Jim said.

Jim’s comments come as the successful Mid and East Antrim Borough Council #ResdiscoverMEA campaign continues.

Councillor Peter Johnson, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, said:

“Local businesses such as this are vital to the recovery, regeneration and future growth of our economy in the wake of the pandemic. Midtown Makers represents a real community of local sellers and they have been sure to extend this sense of community to their customers as well.

“It is essential that we pour our support into our local businesses and towns to ensure they can continue providing us with their unique offerings.”