Shopping: Cardiff city centre independent shops 'hanging on'

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What is it like to run a business in Cardiff's Victorian arcades?

Independent businesses in shopping arcades are "hanging on" due to high costs, one business owner has said.

Wendy Bottrill, who runs The Pen and Paper in the Royal Arcade in Cardiff, said businesses were "desperate for help".

It comes ahead of the inaugural City of Arcades Day in Cardiff, which is aiming to promote seven historical arcades.

The Welsh Government said it was providing £230m of relief to ratepayers across the country this year.

Ms Bottrill said: "The rates here in Cardiff are very expensive. There are varying campaigns at the moment to reduce high street rates and retail is desperate for the help. We are all hanging on."

Image caption,
Wendy Bottrill says businesses are "desperate" for help

The Welsh Government said its rates relief scheme had been increased and would support 15,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

But Ms Bottrill said Cardiff's seven arcades, the oldest of which was built in 1858, were like a "big family network".

"We offer a bit more of a theatrical shopping experience here," she added.

"We're not sanitised, we're not a supermarket. It's a much better experience than picking something up in a shop or buying it online."

'It blows you away'

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Kasim Ali says footfall in the city centre is worth the extra rates and rent

Kasim Ali owns Waterloo Tea in the Wyndham Arcade and said it was the "only option" for a city centre location because it "represented heritage and also fitted in with our brand".

"The beauty of Wyndham and the other arcades is if you've never seen them before it does blow you away. It's a real point of difference compared to other cities."

Mr Ali said business rates were slightly higher than in the suburbs, but were "a quarter or a fifth" of the cost in other areas in the city centre.

"You do get benefits of being in the city centre. Rates are a bit higher on what they would be in the suburbs, but from my perspective I don't think they make or break costs."

'Best of both worlds'

Image caption,
Cardiff has seven historical arcades

Chris Manship runs one of the oldest shops in the arcades.

The Card Shop, in Dominions Arcade, was established in 1980 and has seen a number of changes to both the arcades and people's shopping habits.

"We have the best of both worlds," he said.

"The rent and the rates are always going to be more than out of town.

"It's something we've got to deal with, alter our products, sell the right things and move the business forward because that is never going to change.

"Life is good but very hard as a small independent. You come to the Cardiff arcades, we are something completely different, but it is tough in a retail environment."

Events are taking place on Saturday to celebrate and promote the arcades.

Rory Fleming, who manages the Morgan Quarter which consists of two arcades, said they had survived because of their "independent feel".

He said: "I think when you come into a shopping arcade, unlike a modern shopping centre, there's a bit of history, there's a bit of culture within the arcade, and when you do come in there's a bit of magic and enchantment."