Derby Swap Shop idea goes national as businesses rally to offer support

Published: 4 December 2020

Irongate in the evening

Derby Swap Shop is a free-to-use online platform that enables businesses to exchange goods and services.

A Derby business venture, inspired by a popular 1970s children’s television show, is being rolled out nationwide to help small to medium sized businesses and charities survive lockdown.

Derby Swap Shop, an idea developed by bid-writing consultancy Ask the Chameleon, triathlon kit specialist HUUB and creative design agency think3, is a free-to-use online platform that enables businesses to exchange goods and services.

The scheme was launched in May earlier this year to support small businesses and charities who were being hit hard by coronavirus. It is based on the concept from the 1970s show, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, where if one person needed something, they would offer up an exchange.

The initiative has been a great success in Derby, with members offering to exchange services such as marketing & branding, podcast interviews and photography to promote and grow their businesses. It was soon rolled out to the wider East Midlands with the launch of the Nottingham Swap Shop and Leicester Swap Shop. The platform now has a membership of around 500 users and continues to grow.

And now other towns and cities in the UK are looking to embrace Derby’s concept.

Rachel Hayward from Ask the Chameleon said:

We have been overwhelmed with support for Swap Shops in the East Midlands and seen a positive response from small businesses and charities alike to help each other to get through this.  We were contacted from businesses across the UK, from Kent, Peterborough and beyond, wanting to know if we were launching a swap shop in their areas.  When Lockdown 2 took hold, we knew we couldn’t wait any longer. We had to launch a national swap shop.

Councillor Matthew Holmes, Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for regeneration, planning and transportation said:

It’s great that this amazing concept, which is set to be rolled out nationally, was developed by Derby people for Derby businesses. It’s a fantastic example of local businesses led by creative and innovative people in Derby coming together to support one another.

Tracy Harrison from Safe and Sound, a charity which supports at risk and exploited children, was one of the first to be a part of the swapping revolution. She said:

I am lucky to have been able to swap multiple times, I originally offered safeguarding advice in return for a CRM. I managed to get a response for help with a CRM without having to swap anything in return. Swap Shop is about helping each other and being flexible.

Award-winning British Sign Language Interpreter Sarah Gatford was hit hard by Covid-19, however in true entrepreneurial style she responded by putting her talents to great effect as an Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner. Sarah has discovered a passion for working with people to address their phobias and anxieties and established a new company, Phoenix Therapies. 

Keen to promote her new services, Sarah turned to Swap Shop to help her raise her profile. Sarah said: “Swap Shop is such a great initiative. I wanted to build my new venture and being part of Swap Shop is a great way to do that. I help people with their phobias and anxieties in exchange for recommendations and exposure to build my business.”

Derby City Council is continuing to encourage businesses to apply for either the Local Restrictions Support Grant or the Additional Restrictions Grant. The schemes which opened for applications on Thursday 12th November are there to support businesses who have been forced to close due to the national restrictions during November and those who have been severely impacted.

Cllr Holmes added:

We know that many people have been hit hard by the coronavirus with trade being affected by the subsequent lockdowns as we try to beat this virus. And it’s likely that newer businesses are finding it especially difficult because many won’t have the client base or enough capital to trade with all the uncertainty.

“That’s why we urge them to come forward and apply. We’ve had an overwhelming response and our teams are now working around the clock to process these grants as quickly as possible.

To apply, please visit our business financial support section. If you have any queries contact about the LRSG scheme contact the Business Rates team, titling the email ‘LRSG’ or for the ARG scheme contact the Economic Growth team titling the email ‘ARG’.

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