Larne store hosts ‘Flossy’ as part of campaign for more affordable shopping

Tracey and her daughter Dara with “Flossy”, Gordon Kennedy and the staff of Ballantine Fashions in Larne.

Ballantine Fashions on Main Street will be displaying a mannequin named “Flossie” in its window for the next six weeks.

Flossy, who sits in a wheelchair, was created to raise awareness and promote shopping and inclusion for all people with disabilities.

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The campaign is led by Antrim woman Tracey O’Sullivan Gribbon and her daughter Dara, who attends events held by the May Murray Foundation in the city.

Flossie, pictured in the shop window, has already received a lot of positive feedback.

Family friend and May Murray Foundation fundraiser Amanda Crawford explained: “Tracey and Dara often encountered obstacles while shopping that made the whole process less than pleasant – for example, if there was a lip or a step at the entrance to the store, if the aisles were not wide enough or There was not enough space in the dressing rooms.

“The original idea for Flossie came about after Tracy and Dara watched a story that Nikki Fox was covering on One Show. Tracy then contacted her friend Brian (Barney) McCormick to ask if he could make a chair for her if she found the mannequin.

“Mivan Marine Ltd kindly allowed Barney to work on the project and produce the chair on their property.

“Initially several street shops and independent companies were approached to see if they would display Flossy, but they were either not interested or said they didn’t have space.”

Dara pictured with Flossie and the staff at Ballantine Fashions.

It wasn’t until Amanda posted on the NI Business Facebook page that the campaign kicked off in full, with several companies offering to host Flossy. “Comments and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive,” added Amanda.

“We are all delighted that Flossie has started her journey in Larne as it is the hometown of the Mae Murray Foundation who visits Dara.

“The Foundation is a local charitable organization committed to creating a society in which everyone participates in leisure and social life, regardless of age or ability. It provides an opportunity for young people of all abilities to take part in a variety of activities and fun activities available throughout Northern Ireland.”

Meanwhile, according to Gordon Kennedy of Ballantine Fashions, Flossy has already caught the attention of shoppers in downtown Larne. “We had a lot of feedback from people who noticed it,” he said. “We have always been an affordable store and we were more than happy to take the opportunity to see it in our storefront.”

Flossy is also due to appear later this year at Divinity Bridal, Lisburn, along with the Midtown Makers in Ballymena.

“The Ulster Museum in Belfast has also expressed interest in bringing her on board,” Amanda added.

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