Leicester reopens for business as traders say 'we can't wait for DMU students to come back'
Traders have said they cannot wait to welcome De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students back into their shops as the city reopens for business.
On Monday morning hairdressers, clothing stores, cafes, bars and restaurants started to open their doors, many after being closed for four months, as lockdown restrictions were eased in Leicester.
And as the city starts to return to a new normal, shops sent out a clear message to students – ‘We can’t wait for you to come back’.
Julie Clapham, the owner of Kasbah tattoo and piercing shop in popular student shopping area The Lanes, said: “The students are the heartbeat of the city, full stop – 1,000 per cent.
“When they return to Leicester I will be putting the flags out. In the last year I have had students from all over the world come to this shop. I don’t think there is a student from one continent that I haven’t spoken to.
“We have 15,000 followers on Instagram and around 10,000 of them are students who have lived and studied in Leicester. Students from DMU are the lifeblood of the city.”
DMU is due to reopen its campus to students on October 5 but many will be returning from all over the world during the coming weeks as they move into fresh accommodation and prepare for the new term.
Across the road on Silver Street, Jack Raby, a supervisor at retro clothing shop The Vintage Scene, said: “Students are integral to our success. Our target audience is students as we sell affordable vintage clothing.
“Having DMU literally down the road from us means the majority of our custom is students. When the university had to close early because of COVID-19 it was tough for us. It will be great to see everyone back in Leicester – the sooner the better really.”
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Josh Murphy, co-owns coffee shop and eatery Orso with business partner Hannah Vine.
The Market Place venue reopened after four months and was busy with shoppers looking to enjoy a drink on their terrace.
Josh said: “I am excited to be open and back doing what we set this business up to do. We love our work so much and it was frustrating having to shut for 20 weeks.
“We set up the business with students in mind and I think the place gives of a good vibe for them. I’m really looking forward to them coming back.”
Leicester Market, the largest covered market in Europe, is a huge draw for students shopping for food on a budget. The market site has been trading in the same place for 700 years.
Vicki Morris, who runs Vicki’s Fresh Fruits, said: “The traders have been struggling and we need the custom. The city of Leicester needs the custom.
“Students are really important. My message to them would be ‘come and support your local market. Don’t leave home and come to Leicester and live off take-away food. Come to us and eat fresh.”
“It is great that Leicester is open again. We, as businesses, all feed off each other. We need all of the shops to be open.”
Elizabeth Adama-Acquah runs Crystal Hair and Beauty in the Silver Arcade and studied Business at DMU.
Elizabeth, whose hair salon side of the business was full yesterday morning, said: “Without the students I am nobody. That’s basically it. We are feeling the pinch without them. I am an alumni and I love my students.
“If they come to me and say they are from DMU and show me their student card they can have 10 per cent off when they get back.”
John Hicks is general manager of the Giggling Squid based in St Martin’s Square. His restaurant was reopening after several months and he is looking forward to several Thai students studying PhDs in Leicester, to return to the UK and re-join his staff.
John said: “It is brilliant to be open again. We have been running the restaurant as a take-away and that has kept us ticking over but this is what we are all about. We cannot wait to start delivering our restaurant experience to the students again.”
Ben Hunt, is owner of Nine Bar on Narborough Road, a popular hang-out for the many students who live in the area. He reopened for the first time at midday yesterday since the COVID-19 breakout.
He said: “We have made the place COVID-19 secure - nice spacing, very clean, all staff wearing PPE- and we are now open every day from midday. We are looking forward to welcoming the students back to Leicester.”
Posted on: Tuesday 04 August 2020