A new initiative designed to support independent Tyneside businesses during lockdown has launched with positive results, with some local traders reporting an upturn in the sale of gift vouchers since joining.

Tyne Collective allows customers of North East businesses, including retailers, bars, breweries, restaurants, hair and beauty salons, to support their favourite local spots through the lockdown period by buying gift vouchers to redeem when they reopen, or to use online. When a customer makes a purchase, the voucher lands directly in their email inbox.

Local businesses including RPM Records, The Stand comedy club and Tynemouth Surf Co. have all signed up to the site, which is open to all and free to join.

The voucher shops are set up and branded for each business individually and can be promoted on the business’s own websites and social media channels.

Independent record shop RPM Music, based at Old George Yard, Newcastle, is one business seeing the benefits of joining Tyne Collective.

Co-owner Marek Norvid, said; “Since becoming part of Tyne Collective just two weeks ago we’ve sold a remarkable number of post lockdown online discount vouchers.

“Many customers prefer to browse through the racks rather than buy online. With the shop out of action, we’re selling vouchers with a cracking discount, so people can save oodles of dosh when we re-open as a thanks for supporting us. It’s the gift of music that keeps on giving!”

The website is the brainchild of Newcastle creative agency Vida Creative, partnering with established voucher platform Regalo.

Ellen Hedley, co-founder of Vida Creative said, “We’re delighted to be able to use our skills to contribute something valuable to the community during this crisis. We’ve been overwhelmed with the amazing response we’ve had from North East businesses, and the whole team is working hard to sign up businesses and promote the platform. The more businesses that join the Collective, the more traction it will get, to the benefit of all the independents involved.”

Harriet Russell, account director at Regalo said, “We’ve had such a phenomenal response to our initiative in the North West, it’s fantastic to see it rolled out by our friends in the North East. Gift vouchers are something to look forward to at the best of times, but now they offer a way to support the businesses that have looked after us in better times, it’s our opportunity to give that back. Together we’ll get through this.”