A special profile as part of the Evesham Journal's Grow In Evesham campaign

A SOCIAL enterprise has overcome the recession and the closure of Abbey Bridge to reach a year in business this weekend.

Evesham’s LIFE Emporium has come through a “bumpy ride” but will be hosting an open day to celebrate the milestone on Saturday.

The volunteer staffed business offers local traders the opportunity to display their products there, rather than having to have their own premises, and Tony Fisher, co-director, says it is this selling point that has helped the social enterprise grow.

Mr Fisher, who directs the business with Jerry Lawrence, said: “We started this as we wanted to help the local traders out in some way, so we came up with an idea which would enable them to pay lower rates to display and sell their products as they could split the costs between them.

“It is a unique angle and I think that’s what helped us along the way.

“It’s been a bumpy ride as there have been a lot of obstacles for us to clear. Setting up while still in recession was always going to be hard, but the Abbey Bridge closing around the Christmas period was a disaster for us. We lost a lot of sales as no one was coming to the town.

“Everyone has taken to us better than we thought and that’s helped us grow. The service we provide to traders to be able to display their products at a much cheaper rate is a help for them, as costs are always a big problem for independent traders.

“When we first opened we held an open day, and spread the message through social media. There was a lot of interest, and 16 traders signed up with us there and then.”

LIFE Emporium offers traders a rack of five shelves, for 12 months contracts at a time, to display their products including jams and spreads, handmade brooches and jewellery, shirts and hooded tops and a more.

A range of new courses from knitting to courses in beauty tips are to be launched at Life Emporium taking place each month, as well as resident artist Terin Lippitt offering painting classes on Saturdays.

The Jellypicklejam tea rooms are now open and serving beers, wines and ciders on top of cream teas and light lunches, and a new shop called Crystal Chakra is set to open too, in what Mr Fisher describes as an “exciting time” for the business.

This weekend’s open day will offer potential traders to sign up with LIFE Emporium, and also feature live music, morris dancing and face painting. Proceeds to Cancer Research.