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East Midlands Chamber News

Entrepreneurs take inspiration from 1970s TV show to launch Leics Swap Shop

Leicestershire is the latest county to join an innovative business-swapping platform inspired by a retro TV show.

The Leics Swap Shop follows the launch of the Derby Swap Shop at the beginning of Covid-19 lockdown and subsequent Notts Swap Shop, which between them have more than 250 members that trade services for free within local communities.

The concept, founded by three Derbyshire entrepreneurs and backed by East Midlands Chamber, is a simple one based on the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop children’s TV programme that was broadcast between 1976 and 1982.

Presented by Noel Edmonds, it encouraged children to exchange toys and collectors’ items – but the Derby Swap Shop and its extension platforms involve businesses, freelancers and charities swapping services such as video editing, SEO optimisation guidance, paid social media advertising and website development support.

Lee Marples, co-director of Derby-based creative agency think3 and one of the Derby Swap Shop founders, said: “It’s been an incredible few months since we first launched the Swap Shop in Derby, and to now have our third platform available for Leicester and Leicestershire is incredible.

“Following the recent local lockdown, we believe the Leics Swap Shop will be just the website to help businesses and charities get moving again, and we look forward to hearing all the great stories and collaborations that result from it.”

Derby Swap Shop success spawns East Midlands expansion

More than 200 organisations have signed up to the Derby Swap Shop website since it was set up in May by the four partners at think3, along with bid-writing consultancy Ask the Chamelon’s managing director Rachel Hayward and sports apparel brand Huub’s founder Dean Jackson – after taking inspiration from an idea by Safe and Sound Group CEO Tracy Harrison.

The shop was named as one of four shortlisted companies in the Midlands “entrepreneur for good” category at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in July, and has been named as a finalist in East Midlands Chamber’s Derbyshire Business Awards for the business improvement through technology category.

Faces of the Derby Swap Shop founders (front left to right), Dean Jackson, Rachel Hayward and Lee Marples, superimposed on the bodies of the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop TV show’s presenters, including original cast member John Craven at the back.

There are about 70 active swaps available and more than 50 organisations have already joined Notts Swap Shop since it launched in August.

Tradeable services already on offer in the Leics Swap Shop include reviews on business plans, headshot photography, online yoga instructions, logo design and blog writing.

East Midlands Chamber president Dawn Edwards said: “The Swap Shop concept is a very simple, yet inspired, idea that deserves the support of businesses across the East Midlands.

“It’s fantastic to see businesses coming together to find ways of helping each other grow during what is a hugely challenging time for many – no more so than those businesses in Leicester affected disproportionately by the local lockdown.

“As well as a mechanism for local inter-trading, this may well be one answer to the cashflow issues faced by lots of small businesses.”

Who is running the Leics Swap Shop?

Leics Swap Shop will be led by three local champions – Nicola Moss, who recently set up social media agency Moss Social after previously working at the Federation of Small Businesses; Jessica Southworth, former fundraising manager for the CLIC Sargent charity; and Sonia Viner, who has extensive experience working on key partnership strategies in criminal justice and as operational lead for a disability charity.

Nicola said: “Having worked with small businesses for the last few years at the FSB, I’m truly inspired by the courage and determination they show in the face of adversity.

“Both the Derby Swap Shop and Notts Swap Shop have brought many businesses together through a wide variety of products and services being offered, so I’m intrigued to see how this network will grow and what creative swaps we’ll see being posted”.

Jessica said: “Coming from the charity sector, I recognised what a powerful role a platform like this could provide to cash-strapped organisations that just need a little dash of expertise or manpower, and was really keen to get involved.

“I’m used to doing business in a fun, friendly and informal way – who needs to wake up early for another breakfast networking meeting? It will prove to be a real force for good in Leicester, making lending a hand so much easier.”

Sonia added: “Leics Swap Shop will make a huge difference to many businesses and charities that may be struggling in the difficult post-Covid world and I am excited to see how it grows, while working with the organisations that want to be involved.”

Swap Shop concept could go national

The Derby Swap Shop founders have their sights firmly set on expanding the Swap Shop family beyond the East Midlands, having received enquiries from across the UK.

HUUB founder Dean Jackson said: “The Swap Shops are our way of putting relationships and community back into doing business.

“Small businesses and charities need to pull together to survive, and we believe that Swap Shops are the simplest way of connecting these individual and helping them to build their organisations together.”

Leics Swap Shop will launch on 23 September with a Zoom event at 10am. To create a free account and reserve a place for the event, visit www.leicsswapshop.co.uk.