perfect ‘village’ hidden in the middle of bustling city center

The main street is seen as having little or no future in city plans.

Empty store units are a common trend across the country as news breaks out about the last store or business that has been forced to close.

Despite this, there is a quaint street in the center of a thriving Merseyside town with few to no empty units and a steady stream of customers/

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Wesley Street looks like it was made for a postcard and is home to bright, colorful buildings that resemble the children’s TV show Balamory.

The street that looks straight out of a TV show just seems too good to be true.

In fact, it’s tucked away in the center of Southport and teeming with independent businesses.

Just ask Walkers on Wesley Street, a family-run cafe that has seen four family members work there since it opened three years ago, just nine months before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The cafe expanded between closings, proving to be a hit with the townspeople.

Meg Olechowska of Cake Creations on Wesley Street. Southport

The little cafe, run by husband and wife Simon and Helen Walker, is Southport’s highest rated cafe on Tripadvisor and third in the restaurant rankings despite not even being a restaurant, which proves how well rated it is among visitors.

Helen said: “We’ve extended this side. We were renting it out initially but now we’ve extended as we were very popular in the summer and we had outdoor seating because it’s pedestrianized. I think that attracts people to the streets.”

Simon added: “I think all the work that went down the street with Flannels and the Everlast Gym, I think that was the start. Now I think the street is really up.

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“After the lockdown there were a lot of new independent businesses and people are supporting them more as well. It’s a nice atmosphere. I worked in Southport for many years and never realized how much it Really crowded Lively vibe in the summer It’s really lively and busy here.

Simon and Helen Walker of Walkers on Wesley Street, Southport
Simon and Helen Walker of Walkers on Wesley Street, Southport

Meg Olechowska, the owner of Cake Creations, said it was a “little street with a big heart”.

The independent cake-making business has been owned by Meg since taking over from the previous owner six years ago.

She told ECHO: “It’s a lovely place with great businesses and lovely people. Small town, nice and kind. I think the community makes it special.

“Here you can sort everything for Christmas, even for a wedding now. We have dresses, cakes, jewelry and hairdressers, everything. Small street with a big heart.

Wesley Street, Southport
Wesley Street, Southport

When Helen and Simon first opened their cafe, Helen was helping out on Saturdays and baking cakes around her full-time job as a lecturer at Southport College, with Simon running the cafe alongside her daughter and other members Staff.

Three years later, Helen now spends nearly every day at the cafe alongside her husband. The couple said the decision to open the cafe was not about earning an amazing amount of money, but about having a better quality of life.

The couple also focus on loyal customers and make them feel as comfortable as possible.

Staff continue to wear masks with automatic hand sanitizer next to the doorknob when you enter, all in an effort to not only protect themselves, but also keep their customers safe and comfortable.

Simon and Helen Walker of Walkers on Wesley Street, Southport
Simon and Helen Walker of Walkers on Wesley Street, Southport

Simon said: “We have a lot of regulars. We are very lucky with the number of regulars we have.”

Helen added: “It’s about getting them all to talk. Especially when they first arrive and sit alone. We try to get two or three tables to talk to each other, and I’m pretty talkative too if you haven’t noticed. It’s good when it happens because you’re thinking “I had a conversation with someone today knowing they weren’t stuck on their own.”

Simon continued: “We’ve lost a few people over the years and we still have their partners coming in, which is good because we try to encourage them to come.”

Helen said: “We have a knitting and chatting group on a Tuesday and a Friday they sit on the table there. I don’t know how much knitting is going on but there’s a lot of chatting. Another times a lot of people on their walk in and we don’t charge them they just come in for a coffee.

“It’s really us.”

Victoria Hughes of OmNom Zero Waste, an organic whole food, organic fruit and vegetable and zero waste store, told ECHO that Wesley Street is bucking the “dying main street” trend due to the uniqueness of the stores and businesses, as well as the personality you find in each individual business.

She said: “We’re bucking the ‘dying on the high street’ trend because we offer more than just a quick and convenient shopping experience.

“When you shop on Wesley Street, you are supporting business owners who are not only experts in their craft and have a demonstrable passion for what they bring to the community, but are also local residents who can relate relate to your personal experiences and remember the details about your life.We don’t just want the sale, we want to know what you and your family are doing well.

She added: “Wesley Street is special because of the sense of community on the street.

“This, coupled with the variety of unique, specialist and primarily local independent businesses, creates an alternative shopping experience that the people of Southport are proud to support.”

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