Southport BID feature by Andrew Brown Stand up For Southport
One of Southport’s most established independent retailers says he is delighted to join the Board of Southport BID as he aims to put his insight and experience to the best use.
Jeweller Michael Bakerman, 56, owns Diamonds Direct Wholesalers at 435 Lord Street in Southport town centre.
He has been a jeweller since he was 16 years old and opened his first shop when he was just 21 years old.
His family has operated jewellery shops in Southport town centre for the past five generations, opening their first store in 1918.
It is a heritage, a knowledge and a passion for his home town that Michael aims to utilise in his new role.
He said: “I am Southport born and bred and have been a jeweller ever since I left school!
“I run an independent, family-run business and represent the fifth generation of my family in this trade.
“I am delighted to be joining the Board at Southport BID.
“I have been a BID levy payer for many years and appreciate the work they do to drive improvements in Southport, doing what they can to attract greater footfall and increase trade for everyone.
“I am looking forward to learning more about the work they do as a Board member.”
Michael has plenty of experience in retail in the town through owning Diamonds Direct Wholesalers.
He said: “We sell all aspects of jewellery, including diamond rings, diamond bracelets, engagement rings, and some second hand watches as well.
“We were previously based inside Wayfarers Arcade, and then moved onto Lord Street in 2007.
“We have been through good times, and bad in Southport.
“We now need to all work together to make further improvements to Southport town centre and we can only do that by supporting each other, sharing good ideas and working collectively with Southport BID.
“All small towns across the country have been hit hard by the recession and by the Covid pandemic. Now is the time to bring about positive change. I am confident we can do it.
“There is a lot of money, a lot of investment being brought into the town. It was brilliant to see Southport awarded £37.5 million in Town Deal funding by the Government two years ago, and it has been fantastic to see so much private investment happening since then.
“Building work has started on the new £73 million Marine Lake Events Centre, which is going to attract a lot of visitors.
“The new Southport Enterprise Arcade on Eastbank Street will bring a new dimension to the town centre.
“The former McDonalds’ building has just been bought, which is promising. I am sure the new owners will be very proactive.
“On Lord Street, it has been impressive to see the restoration work taking place at the likes of The Grand and The Garrick.
“I often see Duncan Castles and his sons working away at the former Jaeger shop near me – they’re hard workers! – and they’re also due to open the new climbing centre and cafe further along Lord Street too.
“There is an awful lot happening behind the scenes on Lord Street and elsewhere in Southport town centre that people don’t always see.
“There is lots of building work being done to get buildings into shape to be let out again to new tenants. The landlord at the former Willow Grove Wetherspoon building on Lord Street for example has just invested £200,000 to revamp the site, ready for someone to move in. No-one wants to see an empty unit.
“I like the fact that there are so many upper floors and other spaces in the town centre that are in the process of being converted to become new apartments or new hotel rooms.
“The more people who live in the town centre, the more they are likely to walk out and eat at their local restaurant; the more likely those restaurant owners and staff are to go out and buy things in their local shops; and vice versa. Everything has a knock-on effect.
“There are opportunities to be had in Southport.
“There are a lot of businesses that want to open here.
“We all want the same thing for Southport. We all want to see it busy, and vibrant, we love seeing it thriving.
“We have got to be positive and talk up our town.
“Southport BID is here to help the town to find new ways to generate additional footfall and attract the trade that will benefit everyone.
“There is plenty to be done to make Southport an even better place to live, work and visit.
“I am excited to be working with Southport BID as a new member of the Board to work with other people to do all we can to make that happen.”