A young entrepreneur has escaped from his previous jobs as a food worker and painter and decorator by taking a lockdown leap of faith, setting up his own business and adding something new to the variety already on offer in a Hull city centre arcade.
Zach Roberts has tested the market with some online sales of vintage workwear and military clothing – some of which is more than twice his age!
Now he’s expanding the range with the promise that every item is a one-off and the hope that the ever-changing racks and rails will keep curious customers coming through the door of SupplyHaus in Paragon Arcade.
Zach, 25, said: “The business has been doing well online and with the shop I want to create the feel of a 1940s general store. The hardest part is finding the right stock but when we get it we can be sure it’s exclusive.”
“It’s about chasing quality. These days people buy any item of clothing and expect it not to last, but everything in here was made 40, 50 or even 60 years ago is still in good condition. It’s proper craftsmanship and it was made by people who earned a good wage and enjoyed a nice lifestyle, so it’s guilt-free as well.”
As a regular visitor to Two Gingers Coffee, Zach was well aware of the collaboration between the community of traders in Paragon Arcade and as soon as a unit became available he made his move.
He said: “The idea emerged during lockdown. I worked for a food manufacturer so I didn’t get furloughed or anything like that but I wasn’t spending as much money so I was able to save up and make the change to be my own boss.
“Retail and clothing interests me and I chose this theme because I like the functionality of military and although people don’t realise it you get a lot of modern clothes which take their inspiration from that sector.”
SupplyHaus is packed with everything from jackets and jeans to shirts and dungarees as well as unusual accessories including enamel mugs, shoe wax and military sewing kits. With suppliers in Hull, elsewhere in Yorkshire and online, Zach is committed to keeping the stock fresh, especially when the business settles down and he’s able to jet off on international buying trips.
He said: “I want SupplyHaus to be a place that people enjoy visiting, because that sums up the rest of the Arcade. I also want people to keep coming back because they never know what we will have next – even I don’t know that far in advance because I’m looking for fresh and unique stock, one-offs hand-picked by me as they become available.
“I’ll start by opening seven days a week and then respond to customers – as my own boss I can extend the hours when I know people want to come in and I can take time off when it’s quiet.”
Charlie Allenby, development manager of Paragon Arcade owners Allenby Commercial, said: “We continue to breathe new life into Paragon Arcade and this is the addition of another unique business – Zach is sourcing some amazing clothing that you just won’t see anywhere else around here.
“The traders in Paragon Arcade faced the same challenges as everybody else during Covid but they have thrived through a combination of ingenuity and resilience and by pulling together.
“We have a permanent list of people who have expressed interest in moving into any units which become vacant and that means we can usually move quickly when someone relocates, which is almost always for good business reasons.
“We also have the freedom to try new ideas and that’s what we’re doing with the remaining unit – a limited edition series of street food pop-ups which started with Junk Soul Food and is continuing with a Japanese food offer and then a pizza place. It’s a bit like the Hull Street Food Nights with one fantastic, fresh idea after another.”