Your questions about Shop Chester-le-Street answered

This page answers some of the frequently asked questions about the Shop Chester-le-Street project, and how businesses in the town can get involved.

It was last updated on 4 January 2022.

What is the purpose of Shop Chester-le-Street?

Shop Chester-le-Street is a campaign to support the town’s shops and other businesses, and spread positive messages about what Chester-le-Street offers.

The town already has more fantastic independent businesses than many people expect to find – so, by providing support and encouragement via the Shop Chester-le-Street project, it not only helps those businesses become more successful, but also helps create an environment in which more enterprising people want to trade in the town.

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Who is behind Shop Chester-le-Street?

The current phase of Shop Chester-le-Street is funded by Chester-le-Street & District Area Action Partnership (AAP) via Chester-le-Street Business Association.

Chester-le-Street & District AAP is the main engagement mechanism of Durham County Council in the Chester-le-Street and District area, and ensures that local residents have a voice in their community. Shop Chester-le-Street is funded from the AAP’s budget to support local projects.

The project is managed by retail consultancy CannyInsights.com.

If local traders, landlords or other organisations wish to pay for additional support – such as if they want some targeted help beyond the scope of the AAP funding – they are able to arrange that directly with CannyInsights.com.

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What is Chester-le-Street Business Association?

The Chester-le-Street & District Business Association was founded in 1998.

The main aim of the Association is to promote local businesses and raise the image of Chester-le-Street. The Association brings together local business people to encourage networking, partnership working and joint action for common benefit, and also liaises with other associations, community groups, charities, statutory authorities and private organisations.

If you are a local retailer or other business, it is well worth joining the Association – it costs just £10 for the year, and means that you can keep up to date with all that’s happening in the town.

Being a member also now gives you the opportunity to access marketing and mentoring support from retail experts CannyInsights.com free of charge, via the Shop Chester-le-Street project.

To join, message the Association via Facebook or the Association website.

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How long will Shop Chester-le-Street run for?

The Shop Chester-le-Street project has been funded since April 2017, and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

CannyInsights.com is currently commissioned to spent several days a month managing and delivering the project.

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Who are CannyInsights.com?

CannyInsights.com is a Gateshead-based retail consultancy led by Graham Soult in partnership with marketing consultant Andrew Bartlett.

The business works with independent and multiple retailers online and on the high street, as well as with related organisations such as landlords, local authorities, business associations and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), to help them improve their offer and marketing.

You can find out more about CannyInsights.com here.

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Who is Graham Soult?

Described on BBC Look North as “the region’s best-known retail expert”, and by ITV as “a North East Mary Portas”, retail consultant Graham Soult is often named as being among the most influential retail people on Twitter. He owns and runs the retail consultancy business CannyInsights.com.

He has appeared regularly on TV, on radio, and in the press, including BBC’s The One Show, BBC News, The Guardian, Retail Week, Wired and Forbes, and is a frequent speaker on retail and marketing issues at conferences and seminars.

Graham is a Fellow of the Institute of Place Management (IPM), and also serves as an Expert with England’s High Streets Task Force, an initiative to support communities and local authorities in transforming their high streets.

He also manages Indie Durham City, a project similar to Shop Chester-le-Street that works to support independent businesses in Durham city centre, and to help them spread the word about what they offer.

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What does Graham Soult know about Chester-le-Street?

Graham Soult has regularly visited and worked in Chester-le-Street over the last decade, and conducted a high-street audit for Chester-le-Street Business Association back in 2014.

He has built up strong networks with retailers, commercial property landlords, letting agents and other organisations that operate within the town.

Graham is currently the vice-chairman of Durham Business Group – the organisation that runs Durham Business Club – which has many members from the Chester-le-Street area, and regularly holds its networking events at venues in the town.

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Does my business qualify for support?

Because the Shop Chester-le-Street project is primarily funded by the Chester-le-Street & District Area Action Partnership, we can only support businesses that are based or have premises within the AAP area.

If you are unsure whether your business is within those boundaries, you can check the map here.

If you are based not in Chester-le-Street but the nearby City of Durham, check out the Indie Durham City project instead.

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What support is available via the project?

The project offers a range of support, particularly focused on helping businesses build an effective online presence to market their services.

You can read more about the types of support available here.

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Is the support being offered free of charge?

Yes – thanks to the project’s funding, any support offered to businesses via Shop Chester-le-Street is free of charge.

In some cases – for example, if a business we work with requires a new website, or wants someone to manage their social media for them on an ongoing basis – we may refer those businesses to other trusted local companies that can help them further.

It will then be up to those businesses to decide whether they wish to make use of other services that are outside the scope of what the Shop Chester-le-Street project can offer.

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How do I apply for support?

To apply for support from the Shop Chester-le-Street project, get in touch with us using the application form.

For any other enquiries, contact us here.

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What happens next after I apply for support?

After we receive your submission, we’ll check that you’re eligible for support and then get in touch to arrange a chat!

We would normally prefer to come and visit you in your premises, but we can also hold consultations via video chat if that works better for you.

We will want to understand more about your business, and where you think you need help, so that we can come up with a plan of how to work together.

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Is there a deadline for getting help from Shop Chester-le-Street?

No, not at the moment.

However, the sooner you sign up, the sooner we can start helping!

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I’m based outside Chester-le-Street – is other help available to me?

Even if your business is not eligible for support from us, there are still other ways you can access help or promote your business.

For example:

  • #indiehour is a weekly Twitter hour for independent retailers, which takes place every Tuesday at 8pm. Its focus is “informal chat and collaboration”, and it’s a great way to make connections, share ideas and find support – while helping spread the word about your business, too. You can follow the hashtag here.
  • #NetworkNorthEast is another useful, friendly and supportive Twitter hour that brings together people from across the North East business community, every Tuesday at 2pm. Check out the latest tweets here.
  • For retailers in County Durham, there is a dedicated page on the Durham County Council websitedurham.gov.uk/retail – that signposts some of the support that is available to local businesses. Contact the council’s Community Economic Development team and you will be assigned an officer who can provide one-to-one assistance.
  • For bespoke or in-depth support, CannyInsights.com – who manage Shop Chester-le-Street – may be able to help. The CannyInsights.com website includes full details of the services that the business offers.

If in doubt, drop us a line and we can try to help point you in the right direction.

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Can I follow Shop Chester-le-Street on social media?

Yes, we’d love you to!

We share updates about our work, and the businesses we’re working with, via the @ShopChesterleSt channels on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

If you’re a business or other organisation in Chester-le-Street, please feel free to tag or mention us, so that we can potentially like and share your own posts.

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Can I use the Shop Chester-le-Street logo?

Yes, we are very happy for businesses in Chester-le-Street to show their support for Shop Chester-le-Street by using the Shop Chester-le-Street logo on their website or other promotional materials.

We have versions available with or without text, and with or without a transparent background. Please contact us and let us know what you require.

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