INDEPENDENT businesses are part of what makes a city special - and Newport is no different.

As the retail sector looks to recover from the trials of the lockdown, we look ahead to what is being dubbed the 'most important' Independents Day in recent times.

Independents' Day, today, is a chance for people across the country to celebrate the one-of-a-kind businesses which make their city unique.


With out-of-town shopping centres enticing many away from high streets, Newport independent business owners have said that now is the time for smaller retailers to reclaim the city centre and bring prosperity.

Teg Crathern, of Bubble Bath and Bodyworks, said: "Now that many of the major multiples have either relocated out of town or gone entirely, the local independent retailers are vital to the long term prosperity of the High Street.

"They bring creativity, diversity, enthusiasm to the empty and vacant shopfronts which have sprung up over the past several years."

South Wales Argus:

Teg Crathern (L) and Bridget Lewis at the Bubble Bath and Bodyworks shop in Newport. Picture:

She said that what was once a high street of mainly large national retailers, which "drove up rents and thus priced out the vast majority of small independents" had now, as rents have reduced and business rates have been "postponed", presented itself as an opportunity for small independent retailers to open and sell their wares.

Bubble Bath and Bodyworks opened in October 2019, establishing itself as a vibrant independent retailer of bath bombs, soaps and beauty products.

The store it occupies, on Newport's Commercial Street, used to be a skirt shop in the early 1970s. It was almost destroyed by an IRA bomb that detonated outside.

South Wales Argus:

The South Wales Argus reporting on when the store now occupied by Bubble Bath and Bodyworks was bombed by the IRA during the 70s.

Ms Crathern said that that showed the resilience of indepedent business.

She said trade had been excellent up to and after Christmas, was expectedly quieter in February, but then came lockdown.

"We took the decision to close a week or so before the official announcements were made," she said.

"We have used the lockdown to design and set up an online store. "We've been kept busy with online orders and local deliveries plus the continued support of our existing regular customers for which we are grateful." She said that the store would be operating digitally for the meantime.

Paul Hawkins, owner of Diverse Vinyl, said independent retailers are what gives towns and cities their identity.

South Wales Argus:

Paul Hawkins, owner of Diverse Vinyl in Newport.

"Cities like Newport thrive on our independent businesses and it’s what makes a town or a city different from the next one," he said. "Everyone has chains like a Boots or a Next, but its those cafes, bars and independent shops that make them different, and I think that’s important to promote.

"One of the main things you can do is go out to your local store rather than an online multinational.

"Sometimes the big multinationals can be cheaper. But one thing my customers enjoy is that service, a bit of banter, and us offering them recommendations.

"We’ve got a personal relationship which is not something you can get with shopping on Amazon. Hopefully that’s something that is worth a couple of extra quid."

Mr Hawkins said the store had operated online during lockdown, and has since re-opened with one member of staff and a maximum of two customers in at once. To avoid delays in store, they are asking customers to click and collect where possible.

Shane Jordan and Laura Austen, owners of Sin City Comics, said independent businesses added something "unique and bespoke" to their city.

South Wales Argus:

Sin City Comics in Newport. Picture: Shane Jordan and Laura Austen

"Independent businesses, we feel, are the heart and soul of any city centre," they said. "They are personally invested, they contribute on a higher level to the needs of customers outside of chains.

"It's something unique, bespoke and special in many cases."

The store has moved into the former Topshop unit, and moved their business online to help it through lockdown.

"Whilst we were closed, we were able to get our website live and eventually offered a click and collect on Friday afternoons only where customers would wait outside to be collect their orders, otherwise we partnered up with The Newsagents Direct who handled all our local deliveries," they said.

"The support received during lockdown was humbling.

"We like to say to our customers: Thank you for being the reason we keep our doors open and our days full of new people to our hobbies and like-minded people to share what we love with."

Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID) is also backing this Saturday’s UK-wide celebration of small high street businesses.

A spokesperson said that this year’s Independents’ Day is more important than ever.

"Small businesses are an incredibly vital part of any local economy," they said.

"They are the backbone of Newport city centre. Saturday is a celebration of our independent stores, and the BID is urging people to shop local and support their local independent traders this weekend.

"Research shows that for every £10 spent with a local independent business, £50 goes back into the local economy.

"That’s because the owners of independent businesses tend to spend their money in the local area.

"The BID represents businesses large and small across the city centre, but most of our members are independents."

As city centre independents prepare to reopen, the BID has been helping by distributing free Covid Safe kits.

More than 2,000 pieces of equipment, including hand sanitisers, counter guards, face visors, floor vinyls and posters have been distributed to around 70 businesses in the last three weeks.

Details of how to order and arrange a collection of equipment are available at

Senedd Member John Griffiths is calling on his constituents to back their small businesses for Independents Day UK this Saturday.

South Wales Argus:

John Griffiths MS has been supporting Village Treats

“Throughout this pandemic, my office and I have been able to support many small businesses – shops like Village Treats in Magor and The Glade Tea Rooms in Caldicot are just two we’ve worked with," he said. "It has been a tough time for many of them during lockdown - but they’ve shown great resilience and deserve enormous credit.

“Now our shops and cafes are starting to reopen again, I would really encourage my constituents to make an extra effort to support their local small businesses.

"The Welsh Government have talked a lot about 'Building Back Better'.

"Part of that must be about helping our high streets.”

To learn more about the campaign, visit