There’s certainly been plenty to smile about over the past few weeks – fantastic weather and the little matter of the England football team powering their way through the early rounds of the World Cup.
We may be thousands of miles away from Russia but the success on the pitch has filtered all the way down to Sunderland, where the city’s Business Improvement District has come up with a result of its own.
The mobile FanZone launched to give the city the opportunity to come together and share not just the football action, but also all of the major sporting events of the summer.
And for city centre businesses there’s no doubt at all that it’s been a win-win situation.
Karen Dickman, owner of Port of Call and Gatsbys at Park Lane, said the support and the boost for companies because of the FanZone was “beyond our wildest expectations”.
“It has been an absolutely fantastic success,” said Karen.
“The turnout and support for the first England game was just incredible and not just for our business but also for other businesses in Park Lane that I’ve spoken to.”
Karen also praised the BID for staging the FanZone.
“They deserve complete credit for this,” she said.
“I know the BID team put their heart and soul into organising the FanZone and it’s having a really positive impact on businesses across the city – we couldn’t be more pleased.”
There was also screams of joy during the England v Panama game – and not just because the team won 6-1.
The FanZone bus was stationed in Low Row for this match and once again businesses were on a winning streak.
Chris Smith, general manager of The Lambton Worm said his business had also had a fantastic day.
“It was absolutely incredible, the turnout, the atmosphere everything,” he said.
“It’s great that this time round the bus is moving around the city so lots of businesses can benefit.”
His words were echoed by Clare Davison, general manager of Greens at Low Row.
“It was such a well organised event with a really lovely family atmosphere,” she said.
“It was a great day for businesses in the area and well done to the BID for putting it together – hopefully we can have more events like this.”
And it’s not just the FanZone that’s gone mobile – the BID team is also out and about at some of the major events this summer, spreading the word on what Sunderland has to offer to both visitors and local residents.
Its pop-up city centre will be at both the Tall Ships Race and the Sunderland Airshow, where copies of the BID’s very first Little Book of Offers will be up for grabs.
The booklets – which are free – contain a whole range of fantastic offers and discounts from retailers across the city centre, covering everything from bargain afternoon teas to spectacular deals on cocktails.
Offers from national chains such as Nandos and McDonald’s are also included, as are cut price cinema tickets and even a free pork pie at Dicksons when you spend £2.
A voucher for a meal for a family of four for £20 at The Lambton Worm is just one of many amazing meal deals and anyone in need of a new bed can take advantage of a £150 discount from the Durham Bed Centre.
“There are some spectacular deals to be had, no matter if you’re just looking for somewhere to have a night out want to have a pit stop for a coffee and cake,” said Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID.
“We’re sure the Little Book of Offers will be really well received and the fact that we can share it with the thousands of visitors we’re expecting in the weeks ahead will hopefully bring huge benefits to retailers across the city.”
Further information on all BID events can be found at www.sunderlandbid.co.uk