The lost independent Hull businesses we miss the most

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 2 Dec 2018

The plight of big names like House of Fraser and Toys ‘R’ Us has, understandably, dominated the headlines this year.

2018 has been one of the toughest on the high street in recent years, as some of the country’s biggest retailers announce bleak trading figures and store closures.

It would be easy to forget then, it is not just department store giants and national brands which have been hit hard in recent years.

In Hull, three quarters of businesses employ less than 10 people, and are therefore classed as “small”.

Newly released figures have revealed around a third of small businesses in the city do not survive their first two years, with one in 10 closing within 12 months.

Even more alarming is the news that less than half (48.3 per cent) survive their first four years of trading.

In fact, a staggering 800 businesses disappeared from Hull in 2017, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

Watch: What shoppers are saying about Whitefriargate

When a shop – large or small – announces it is closing, Hull Live is one of the first to know.

That is not even because the business itself rings up to share their story. It is the customers who get in touch to say how much they will miss it.

With that in mind, here is a short list of some of the small businesses that have been forced to close this year.


Kapow, Whitefriargate

The popular gift store announced in June it was closing its doors in Whitefriargate.

At the time, the store pointed the finger of blame at business rates, a tax which every shop or business has to pay to the government.

Luckily, Kapow does still live on in Hull, as former employee Clint Smith took his existing t-shirt printing business, Lyrical T, and opened a store in Jameson Street, which also stocks Kapow products.

Regardless though, Kapow fans will still walk past the old Whitefriargate store and feel a tinge of sadness at what once was.

Boss Burritos

Oliver Johnson in Boss Burritos and Burgers. (Peter Harbour)

The Mexican restaurant in Witham closed down suddenly in August, leaving fans disappointed.

Despite being open just a year, owner Oliver Johnson said the decision was made to allow him to focus on his other ventures, Dope Burger and Wagwan Chicken.

He said: "The standard at Boss Burritos and Burgers has slowly changed. I have not been there and we are not prepared to carry on as we were.

"I have decided to close permanently for now."

Rise Gym

Inside Rise gym, which has now closed. (Rich Addison)

The K2-based gym only opened in February but by August it had disappeared.

Rise said “day to day pressures made it impossible to continue”.

The gym was one of the first businesses to open in the refurbished Kingston House building, and became one of the first to close.

The 3,000sq ft space included powerlifting and weightlifting areas, as well as cardio equipment and personal training spaces. It also featured a rooftop outdoor workout area.

Calisthenics Parks

James Farmery and Sarah Pearcey with Sam, 6, Charlie, 8, and Colleen, 10

The unique “jungle gym” announced its closure in August with an emotional video montage.

Calisthenics Parks in Merrick Street off Hedon Road was the brainchild of James Farmery who used his day job as a tree surgeon to build an arena dedicated to the calisthenics fitness craze.

He said: “We wanted to achieve and we had more to give but sadly we never managed to create the opportunity to fulfil every goal.

“Despite working incredibly hard, financially we just couldn’t turn Calisthenics Parks into the gym it deserved to be.

“We worked seven days a week and way more hours than is healthy to bring out dreams to reality. Unfortunately though, we could not continue with the pace.”

Joshua Tree

Nick Goodman at Joshua Tree. (Richard Addison)

The quirky Newland Avenue furniture store shut its doors in July after two decades of trading.

Nick Goodman, founder of Joshua Tree, admitted the closure “wasn’t planned”, but said an offer had been made to buy the shop and he had taken the opportunity to walk away.

“I thought, ‘no way Jose will I sell this shop’ but when I started thinking about things, I thought to myself, ‘I have given it my best shot.’ I’ve done it for 20 years, worked six, seven days a week and I thought ‘let’s have some me time.’

“All the traders have told me not to leave it too late if I plan on doing anything else and I agree with that.

“The offer she made went into my subconscious. I will miss it like mad because it’s my second home but it’s the right time to go,” he said.

Hull Pie

Hull Pie

Thankfully, Hull Pie is still serving its delicious pies to customers at events, markets, weddings and through online deliveries, but in May the business shocked fans by announcing it was closing both of its stores.

Owner Matt Cunnah said the decision to close both stores was “the hardest he had ever had to make”. However, an increase in outgoings and a fall in trade prompted him to rethink his business strategy.

“Rising costs of everything from the ingredients to the overheads have forced us out. Trade has fallen too and people do not have as much disposable income," he said.

“When shops like Jamie Oliver’s and Prezzo are closing you can understand why. It’s tough for everyone but this is not the end of our business."

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