“Times are tough, and sometimes you have to diversify.”
Brendan Hughes knows this better than most.
Pub doorman Brendan’s new venture is far removed from dealing with late-night revellers on the streets of Morecambe.
The boss of ICU Security, suppliers of pub and club door staff in our town centre, is going to open a flower shop.
“I don’t know why, I must be mad!” laughed Brendan.
“My partner Tammy Barwell is a florist, so I said let’s open a shop and see how we do.”
The new shop is currently under renovation on Pedder Street and is scheduled to open on November 1.
It will be called TB Florist, and Brendan says it will aim for the “high end” of the flower market, specialising in mail order, weddings and funerals.
“I’m still running the security company but I fancied doing something new,” said Brendan.
“I’d rather do this than have another empty shop in Morecambe. The more people that do that, the less empty the town feels.”
Just 12 months ago, Morecambe topped a national league table of having the most empty shops.
Pedder Street, in the heart of the town’s shopping centre, had its fair share back then. Not any more.
Brand new shops have sprung up, including Plaza Blinds, the Novel Cafe, The Bike Shop and Humpty Dumpty Boutique.
Like other new shopkeepers we’ve spoken to during our #SOSMorecambe campaign, Brendan believes rate relief for start-up businesses is key to survival.
“The rents aren’t too expensive at the moment, especially on this side of Pedder Street.
“At one point the rents weren’t realistic. But the rateable value on this shop is £2,500 and I get 100% rate relief.
“The first year of business is the most difficult. ICU has been going for seven years and we’re still trying to get our name out there.
“If it’s not too expensive to set up a business in Morecambe, more businesses will come in, the busier the town is going to get and shoppers will start to have confidence in the town centre.”
Morecambe born and bred, 30-year-old Brendan also believes local people should shop in the town and Morecambe businesses should use local suppliers.
“We live above the ICU Security office in the West End and we use the butcher nearby.
“Mr Baker, he’s called, ironically! He’s great, he really looks after you.
“But I remember when there used to be 10-15 people working behind that counter. I think people automatically think supermarkets are cheaper but nine times out of 10 they aren’t.
“ICU uses local companies, putting money back into the local economy. If everybody did that we would be further ahead.”
Away from his businesses, Brendan is also making other differences in the community.
He is treasurer of Morecambe’s branch of Homestart, a family support charity where volunteers offer friendship and practical help to families with at least one child under five years old.
Brendan is also part of a new public interest company called ‘Go Morecambe’.
“We’re trying to get grants to put events on in the town,” said Brendan.
“The town council has to cut its events budget, and that’s a controversial point. It’s hard to find money, but I believe it’s down to community interest companies like us to look for it.
“It’s a scary time for everyone. But you’ve got to keep plugging away.”