Burnley FC’s Clarke Carlisle gives a boost to new business venture

special REPORT: by Clarke Carlisle

TWO Burnley businessmen are looking to lead the way in the fight against the current recession.

Greg Tattersall and Jim Wardle have faced the economic downturn head-on and taken the bold step to open a new business and I had the pleasure of being invited along for the grand opening!

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In light of the recent news that Burnley is among the national leaders when it comes to coping with the current climate, I was curious to see what the reality was, and what the feelings were of someone venturing out in precarious economic times.

I was greeted by a host of smiling faces and introduced to the owner who was immensely proud of his store. Epitomising what can be achieved with some hard work and endeavour, Greg believes the townspeople can do even better and actually reverse the ailing small business trend.

The 28-year-old entrepreneur believes: “If people just hold back and hold back it’s just going to slow the recovery down, so people need to be a little bit brave and go for it and that’s the way to turn things around.”

The pair bought the franchise to the Cash Generator store in St James’s Street, in Burnley town centre, a business that trades second-hand and graded products, as well as conducting Western Union money transfers and cheque cashing services. Recent spending trends indicate this type of industry is growing, with consumers searching for the best value on the market, and Greg doesn’t believe it’s a short-term venture.

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“It’s a company that’s really going forward and obviously this nature of business [is too], and I wouldn’t say it’s just due to the economic times, as I think when things get better people will still use this store,” he says. “People are being a bit more street smart and a bit more savvy about how and where to spend their money and the stigma that has been associated with second-hand and graded products in the past is beginning to disappear.”

Greg and Jim’s store is a prime example of why the stigma has gone. Far from the bric-a-brac, jumble sale type stores of yesteryear, a modern and vibrant shop-fit has given this store a pleasant and inviting feel.

Jim (60) came out of retirement to assist Greg in the venture and proudly conveyed his feelings on their official opening day. “It’s the coming to fruition of lots and lots of effort and hard work, mainly from Greg, and I hope I’ve supported him along the way.” Providing the voice of reason and experience, Jim confesses he’s had to slow down his business partner at times, but the pair have worked well to produce the final result. Yet, even though it’s a partnership, Greg reckons there’s no argument as to who’s the boss. “It’s safe to say it’s my mum! Jim is my Mum’s partner and it’s fair to say she rules the roost!”

Government support had a significant part to play in the creation of the company and Greg was quick to acknowledge this. “The Government-backed funding scheme, the EFG scheme, was really the only way I could get the money to start this business, so I owe a lot to them for giving me the chance to get this underway.” But this shouldn’t take away from the massive gamble Greg’s had to take, committing all of his own assets to secure the funding. He admitted: “It’s taken a lot of investment, a lot of sleepless nights and putting all my personal assets on the line, but along with the Government funding it’s a nice positive story and you don’t hear many of them at the moment!” A comment that is too true, but hopefully these guys can be the first of many.

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Their story is another shot in the arm for local MP Gordon Birtwistle and his support of the “Keep Trade Local” campaign. Jim believes the company can be flag-bearers, encouraging other aspirational community members to get to work. “If we make this business a success, and I have every hope we will, it will be an example for everybody that opportunity is there as long as people are prepared to work hard and go and do it!”

It could be the town’s new motto, “go and do it”, but even if it isn’t starting your own business, it should at least be supporting your own local businesses.