New barbers Tommy Blades brings some cutting edge style to Blandford Street
Blandford Street in the city centre has had a mixed bag of fortunes over the years, but new business Tommy Blades is hoping independent businesses can help breathe new life into the high street.
Barber and business owner Tom Ewel honed his skills barbering in North London but after relocating to the North East decided to open his own business in Sunderland city centre.
He brings with him 10 years of experience, his own brand merchandise and hair styling products, as well as a unique style of decor that has completely transformed the former vape shop.
The business has already created three jobs, with more to come, and its first six weeks of trading has already seen it providing plenty of cuts and trims.
Tom said: "I’d been looking at premises in Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland. This one had been empty for a while when I first came to see it in early 2020, but had formerly been a vape shop, and I really saw the potential in it. There’s nothing else like this in the city and I felt I could bring something different."
It took around three months to transform the site, with red leather barbering chairs, Greek key wallpaper, a seating area with gallery walls, skull paraphernalia and more.
Tom said the feedback since opening in September has been great.
"We’ve had a great start,” he said. “The feedback has been amazing and trade is building week on week. There’s already some great independents here who’ve been really welcoming, as has the charity shops either side.
"With a pedestrianised street in the city centre like this it sort of reminds me of somewhere like The Lanes in Brighton. Obviously it’s not there yet, but it has the potential to be a hub for high quality independents.”
Earlier this year, Blandford Street also welcomed new independent coffee shop Hatty’s which brought new life to the empty Coffea Caban unit, which has proved a popular addition.
*Tommy Blades is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6.30pm.