Ghost town? Still plenty of spirit - we meet new entrepreneurs keen to open up in Sleaford

Al Henderson and Elle Richardson are opening Henderson's Cocoa House. EMN-171002-154743001
Al Henderson and Elle Richardson are opening Henderson's Cocoa House. EMN-171002-154743001

There are concerns from some quarters that Sleaford’s high street might be under threat with Argos pulling out of Homebase (while keen to keep a presence in the town).

But recent weeks have seen a surge of entrepreneurs willing to set up shop in Sleaford, attracted by its distinct tradition of independent traders.

Heather Johnson and her new furniture business, Home-Feather & Stone. EMN-171002-154802001

Heather Johnson and her new furniture business, Home-Feather & Stone. EMN-171002-154802001

Heather Johnson, from Swineshead, used to work at a local school and at the Co-op store in Donington but has opened Home-Feather & Stone in White Hart Mews.

She explained: “A combination of personal circumstances, wanting a fresh challenge and a business opportunity presenting itself at the right time have accelerated my decision to go it alone.”

She was aware the planned housing developments in Sleaford will see the town population expand and saw an opportunity to grow a business selling quality pre-loved furniture, lighting and pictures at affordable prices. She said: “Sleaford is a sleeping giant.

“People have been coming in saying it is nice to see furniture made properly and not modern stuff that breaks easily.

Mesut Palabiyik and Shirley Woods are opening Tablez cafe and bistro. EMN-171002-154821001

Mesut Palabiyik and Shirley Woods are opening Tablez cafe and bistro. EMN-171002-154821001

“My husband has worked in the furniture industry for over 30 years so I am able to call upon his experience and contacts. It has been a rapid learning curve.”

Visiting shows, she may branch into selling new pieces to allow for changing trends.

For more details: www.facebook.com/homefeatherandstone

○ Mesut Palabiyik and mother-in-law Shirley Woods are business partners opening Tablez cafe and bistro in Millstream Square, off Southgate, next week, employing up to 12 part-time staff.

He has lived in Sleaford for the last eight years, having spent his life running pubs, restaurants and clubs in Turkey and had grown tired of commuting to his current eaterie venture in Long Eaton.

He said: “We looked all over and finally found this place and decided to give it a chance in Sleaford.”

It will be predominantly English food with a Mediterranean twist, trying themed evenings, such as seafood, during the week and Turkish nights on Saturdays.

Mesut said: “There is nowhere quite like this in Sleaford where you can come and relax and chat over a coffee or wine and a cake without pressure to buy a meal. We will do breakfast and lunch too.”

There is seating upstairs and downstairs and an open kitchen. They feel the characterful old building suits their welcoming style.

○ Al Henderson and fiancee Elle Richardson of Sleaford plan to launch Henderson’s Cocoa House on April 3 having fitted out the premises in Bristol Arcade around their current jobs in the military.

Having started out making them for friends at home, they will be selling a range of 50 artisan chocolates made on site as gift boxes or individual selections. They will be selling local Stokes coffee and tea and making their own exclusive hot chocolate drinks.

Al was keen to do something closer to home and Elle said the emphasis on independent local businesses in Sleaford was what attracted them.

There will be flavours of the month and seasonal chocolates. Elle said: “We would also like to have a stall at shows.”

Al said the new Government initiative exempting businesses with a rateable value under £12,500 from having to pay has really helped them.