Julie Elliott MP

Standing up for Sunderland Central

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Supporting Small Business Saturday in Sunderland

One of Sunderland’s oldest family-run retailers welcomed a visit by MP Julie Elliott to mark Small Business Saturday.

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The Sunderland Central MP toured Reynolds Outdoor Centre, which has been a stalwart in the city centre for three centuries, as part of the city’s Small Business celebrations on December 2.

The Derwent Street shop, which sells outdoor wear, accessories and winter sports equipment, is one of a number of independent retailers that has benefitted from Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to pay a visit to the locally run businesses on their doorstep.  

Ms Elliott met with Anthony Reynolds, who is the current manager of the store, having taken over from his father before him.

She also paid a visit to Park Lane market, which has seen many of its units taken over by independent retailers, creating a festive market, as part of Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) Christmas activities.  

Mrs Elliott said: “Businesses like Reynolds Outdoor Centre are the cornerstone of Sunderland’s retail scene – we have so many fantastic independent businesses that bring vibrancy to our city centre.  

“However, these businesses only survive with the support of people here, so it’s great to get out and learn more about some of the fantastic retailers we have on the doorstep.  Small Business Saturday is a timely reminder to ‘shop local’, and ensure that businesses like Reynolds are here for decades to come.”

Reynolds Outdoor Centre first opened its doors in 1860, as an army supplies store, which - at the time - sold clothing for the thousands of workers who flocked to the mines and shipyards in the area.  The company has witnessed huge change, and has adapted as the city’s industry has changed, with outdoor wear now the main part of the business.

Anthony, the fifth generation to take to the helm of the Reynolds store, said: "Sunderland was a very different place when the business got started. We were supplying ship builders and miners - people who needed hard wearing clothing to keep them protected from the elements.  It was an industrial city, and we were a company built around that. 

“Reynolds, like many businesses in Sunderland, has been passed from generation to generation, but is still as relevant today as it was when it was formed, because we have been able to adapt.  We have a loyal customer base, but of course, it’s always great when days like Small Business Saturday encourage more people to come and see what we are about.  

“With more and more people turning to internet shopping, it can be tough for independent businesses that rely on customers coming into store, so Small Business Saturday is an important day for us.”

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