A SWAG of Newcastle businesses will join forces on Thursday to add some razzmatazz to the inner-city with festive night trading, guided tours of stores and discounts in store for shoppers.
Stores in Darby Street, the West and East End who belong to business group Newcastle Makers and Traders are behind the City Sparkles event, which starts at 5pm.
Edwina Richards of Make Space Newcastle at The Station said the event aimed to create a "city-wide buzz" about Christmas and was part of a month-long festival of incentives for locals to shop from small, ethical and independent stores.
"A key message is that shopping this city is a unique pleasure and an adventure waiting to happen," she said.
Participating stores include Studio Melt, Rundle Tailoring, High Tea with Mrs Woo, Timeless Textiles, Blackbird Corner and Secret Book Stuff, with a list of the businesses and a shopping map posted on Newcastle Makers and Traders website.
Studio Melt co-owner Angela Hailey said city traders recognised that in a "shifting landscape" of increased mall shopping and online trading, stores could achieve more as a collective than alone.
She said while trade has been down because of "ongoing disruption" caused by light rail work and infrastructure related to super cars, businesses were now working to encourage locals who may have avoided the area to "revisit their old favourites and come back to discover the new things popping up" to service the growing inner-city population.
High Tea with Mrs Woo's Rowena Foong said the store will host "drinks and dress-ups" and a Furoshiki Wrap jumble, making wrapping cloths using fabrics.
"Independent businesses with core creative, collaborative values and strong sustainable practices is the shape of the future," she said.
Bronwyn Rundle said Rundle Tailoring would have giveaways, champagne and live music in its efforts to promote shopping local.
"Retail conditions are challenging and ... made worse by the smoke haze from bush fires," she said.
Tim McPhee, owner of Darby Street stores Abicus and Scout, said the latter store would be relaunched with a collaborative window installation as part of the City Sparkles event.
"We have had very positive trade at Scout this season and absolutely expect it to pick up over the coming weeks," he said.
"So many of our regulars are making a very conscious decision to exclusively shop local, shop independent and shop in the city... just the way we like it."
Monsoon Living's Tasha Ireland said independent traders, together with the city's natural assets, offered charm that shopping centres could not.
Pappa Sven owner Libby Helinski said 2019 had been a "really tough year" in retail but she was grateful for the loyalty of local customers who visited her store rather than shopping online.
"We love Christmas and have always created events at this time of year to enjoy with our customers, and also thank them for their support for our small business," she said.
Pappa Sven will have local Finnish Folk group Salmiakki Pelimannit playing outside its Union Street store from 6pm to 8pm and serve elderflower and lingonberry spritzers.
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