Retail makes a comeback at waterfront urban village

Retail has returned to Hull’s Fruit Market, with new safety measures now in place.

While several Fruit Market businesses had continued to trade online during the lockdown and The Store On Pier Street remained open throughout, selling essential items, other shops were forced to close.

Now, independent retailers in Humber Street have re-opened with hand sanitiser stations, contactless payments, two-metre social distancing, one-way systems and limits on shoppers inside at any one time.

Riccardo Seaton, owner of Poorboy Boutique, said: “The Fruit Market is very special for us and it’s great to see our customers in person again.

“We’ve been here from the beginning and it’s very close to our hearts. It’s an up-and-coming, vibrant place with so much diversity and local independent businesses creating a great vibe. I have every confidence we’ll continue to flourish.”

Alice Thomson and Joseph Cox, co-owners of Form Shop & Studio, said they were enjoying seeing loyal customers again.

Alice Thompson said: “The Fruit Market is where we started and where we continue to grow. Every new business that sets up here becomes part of the family. We’re getting straight back to work and planning for the future again, making it as easy and as comfortable as possible for our customers to return.”

Shaun Barker-Newton, owner of 19point4, said: “Things are a bit different and it’s a learning curve for all of us, but there’s a great support network in the Fruit Market and it’s brilliant to have the community back together.”

Other re-opened stores in Humber Street include Tessies and Ghost Orchid Bride.

House plants, plantware and decorative paint store, Plant & Paint, is continuing to operate a delivery and click and collect service, as well as welcoming customers to “shop from the doorway” from 12pm-5pm on Saturdays and 1pm-5pm on Sundays.

Takeaway and/or dine at home offers are being provided by Nibble, The Minerva, Humber Street Distillery Co, Taphouse Brewpub, Humber Fish Co, Thieving Harry’s and Ambiente Tapas.

The return of the Fruit Market commercial community has been backed by Wykeland Beal, the joint venture of commercial developer Wykeland Group and housebuilder Beal Homes, which is leading the regeneration of the area, working with Hull City Council.

Tom Watson, chartered development surveyor at Wykeland Group, said: “It’s great to see the fantastic independent retailers in Humber Street open once more.

“They have all proven to be tremendously resilient in responding to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 outbreak, including by launching innovative online services and now adapting their shops to create a safe and welcoming environment for customers to return.”

In readiness for resumption of full trading, work is underway to open a new pay and display shoppers’ car park on the site of the former Pepi’s nightclub.

The re-opening of businesses comes as construction is well advanced on developments that will bring hundreds of new workers into the urban village.

A new head office for Arco, a 350-space multi-storey car park and a sister building for the Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) tech hub are due to be completed by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the new footbridge over Castle Street is due to open this summer, providing another gateway to the Fruit Market and Marina areas.