What's happening with Handpicked Hall?

On Tuesday, I wrote this, and asked around the shop to see if I could post it on my personal blog. They all agreed I could, so here it is.

“You may have heard some rumours about Handpicked Hall in Leeds. You may have seen some changes and been confused or concerned. Well, here’s what’s been happening.

Last week, we did get a bit of a shock – Handpicked Hall, the entity which rents the space we trade in off our landlord, has disbanded. We spent a lot of time talking things through and thinking about what we all need.

After many tense negotiations between ourselves and the landlords, we managed to stay open – the traders who could no longer rent from Handpicked Hall have effectively cut out the middle man, and are now renting direct from the landlord.

We are still trading, and not much has changed. A couple of businesses have moved on, but 85% of the traders are still open, including both food areas (Casa Columbiana and Just Grand). We even have a few completely new traders coming in.

Things will change at the end of March, but we are not closed, despite what some people have been saying. There was definitely a chance we would close at the end of February, but our team spirit has brought us through to allow us to continue trading.

Handpicked Hall was always conceived as an incubation premises for small businesses to be able to eventually move out and trade on their own without the management. A few businesses already expanded into their own units before this happened, and others were well on their way.

Whilst the way it has happened was unexpected, Handpicked Hall was successful in giving us the skills and confidence to trade without their safety net – it’s going to be hard work working without the excellent management team, but the collective ethos has been tried to its limits this week, and hasn’t snapped, despite a number of hiccups.”

This evening, I received a message from a friend asking me if what Leeds Civic Trust had posted was true.  They had posted the photo above, with this caption

Handpicked Hall to close at the end of March 2014.

It is sad to report the full closure of Handpicked Hall, situated in
the Grand Arcade on Vicar Lane from the end of this month. This was a refreshing change in this area. Some of the businesses
in here are to relocate elsewhere in the city centre.

Not only is this not entirely true, it’s been posted before any of the retailers have made public statements. No one has asked us anything about this, and we’re all quite upset.

Personally, we’d literally just finished telling our own stockists that we are closing at the end of the month. The final one of our stockists replied this morning to our email, so we were getting ready to prepare a statement from eek! now that everyone knew.

As most traders are staying open for a month, rumours of being closed is not good for business. A lot of the traders are also looking into new premises, but they could be staying where they are. This month is for giving us breathing space – something which Leeds Civic Trust have now taken away from us.

We spent days negotiating this breathing space, and in a few seconds, our careful planning has been ruined. It would have taken the same amount of seconds for someone from LCT to get in touch and ask for a statement, or for confirmation or comment.

This may seem like nothing to you – if we’re closing anyway, what does it matter?

I’ll tell you why. After a week of being unsure, and confused and upset, today we felt like we were in charge. Finally, we could breathe for a couple of weeks at least. You will all have no idea what we have been through this week – yes it’s not life threatening, but people have lost their jobs, with others at the risk of losing theirs (some retailers employ people), and amounts of money which can make or break a family and their homes.

On a personal note, I wanted to find the right way to tell friends and family. I wanted to be able to tell them without them worrying about my mental health – I had to close my shop less than a year ago, and it was a big deal to try again so soon. I felt ashamed and guilty, and just sad and tired. I wanted to do it MY way.

So on behalf of the retailers, yes, some of us are closing, some of us are moving into other spaces within the arcade, some are still looking for premises, but we are all still OPEN and we are all still WORKING HARD.


Leeds Civic Trust contacted us this morning to apologise for their misinformation, and shared this status.

Apologies to those at the Handpicked Hall for the mix up yesterday over our post which said it was closing. We were given some incorrect information, which we thought came from a reliable source who asked us to share with as many people as possible. We can confirm that thankfully the Handpicked Hall in the Grand Acarde is NOT closing and for more information please see their Facebook or Twitter page.

I have accepted their apology, which is all I ever thought they owed us, and have also apologised for getting cross last night.

The facts of course still remain – some shops will close at the end of March, so come and visit us while we’re all still here.

3 thoughts on “What’s happening with Handpicked Hall?

  1. Rowan,

    I was just thinking about you today because I was listening to the Raconteurs, and thought I should pop in and say hi. What a shame this has happened. It was a lovely place.

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