It cannot be easy to see your business devastated by flood water,  and undoubtedly heartbreaking to see the business you have worked so hard to develop  washed away through no fault of your own.

With an understandable desire to get the business back into operation as quickly as possible there is often limited time available to consider whether or not changes to the internal layout of the shop might deliver new business opportunities.

But if you are starting again with a relatively blank canvas do not rush  to reinstate what was there before. An opportunity exists to address layout issues that might have previously impacted negatively on the way customers  ‘shopped the shop’ . Careful placement of replacement shelving might help alter the way  customers circulate; identifying and maximising the impact of new selling hot-spots can help generate additional sales and improving merchandising techniques is easier when you are having to stock the shelves from scratch.

It might even be practical to relocate the counter, just because things have always been in a certain position does not mean that they are in the best position for your business in the future.

Identifying new opportunities, on top of everything else required to get the business up and running again, might deliver some challenges, but it is time that could be well spent.

We would be only too happy to discuss with you how our extensive expertise could help ensure that opportunities are not missed and help identify the silver lining available for your business in the future

Let's talk shop retail revitalisation

Spending this week visiting 20 more retailers in Dumfries engaged in the Let’s Talk Shop Support Programme funded by Dumfries and Galloway Council.

The Shop Doctor independent shops

Another very interesting selection of shops all contributing positively to the diverse range available in the town. More to follow.

Independent shops retail survival


Monaghans DumfriesAn evening retail workshop focusing on best practice in relation to visual merchandising and overall shop presentation is to take place on Monday 17 November at the Cairndale Hotel, Dumfries.

In this latest visit to Dumfries, in addition to the workshop, the Shop Doctor will be working with up to 32 independent retailers who will not only be receiving an advisory visit in the new year, but a mystery assessment visit between now and Christmas.

This is the final stage of the Shop Doctor Support Programmes for Dumfries & Galloway Council that will have seen some 232 shops across 15 towns visited and in receipt of one-to-one advice since March 2012.

For further information, please contact Grant Coltart on grant.coltart@dumgal.gov.uk

Wigtown general photos 040The recent Let’s Talk Shop programme in Wigtown revealed far more retail depth within many of the businesses than was expected from first impressions.

From bookshops that are cafes – to cafes that sell books; gift shops with galleries to an engravers selling gifts – and all within a town setting enhanced by the very attractive and imposing County Building overlooking a well tended central pocket park set between the two main streets.

As Scotland’s National Book Town there may not be quite as many book shops as there once were but there is little doubt that the town offers a wealth of intriguing independent an knowledgeable businesses where books undoubtedly dominate the retail offer.

Shop Doctor Recommendations Reports have been provided for each of the eight participating businesses and it is hoped that implementation of just some of the recommendations will help to make visiting the businesses, and the town, an even more engaging experience.


IMG_5706 compThe second stage of the latest Let’s Talk Shop Support Programme got underway on 7th October with a Shop Doctor Retail Masterclass being held in Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway.

Following the success of the first stage of the Programme delivered in Dalbeattie during September, 10 retailers in Thornhill recognised the opportunities being made available by Dumfries & Galloway Council and attended the evening masterclass.

In addition to the masterclass, The Shop Doctor is conducting one-to one advisory visits to participating retailers in the town with each business concerned having opportunity to apply for a £500.00 grant towards implementation of recommendations made during the visits and contained within the comprehensive Shop Doctor Recommendations Report that will be compiled for each shop.

Our Shop Doctor commented “the feedback from retailers in Dalbeattie has been excellent and reports are in hand for the 20 retailers involved” he went on to say “my visits are not about finding fault or delivering criticism, they are about seeking ways to make good businesses even better. They provide retailers with the confidence to implement recommendations based on good industry practice and my own wide experience of what works and what doesn’t.”

In November, the programme will commence in Langholm followed early in 2014 by Castle Douglas and Newton Stewart. In total, 70 independent retailers will be engaged within the the current Let’s Talk Shop programme in Dumfries & Galloway.

A further 70 independent retailers across 5 more towns in Dumfries & Galloway will now be receiving assistance from The Shop Doctor.

Following the success of the recent Shop Doctor Programmes delivered by Let’s Talk Shop Ltd in Dumfries, Annan, Stranraer, Gretna and Lockerbie the scheme has now been extended to provide support to shops in Dalbeattie, Thornhill, Langholm, Castle Douglas and Newton Stewart.

Let’s Talk Shop Ltd was successful in securing the contract for onward delivery of the programme which will take the number of shops now receiving Shop Doctor support in Dumfries & Galloway to 140.

Similar recent programmes in Argyll & Bute and East Lothian increase the number of independent shops involved with The Shop Doctor in Scotland alone to 160.

IMG_2501 website

June has seen yet more independent shops in Scotland receiving Shop Doctor support in ongoing support programmes funded  by East Lothian Council and Dumfries & Galloway Council.

A total of 21 ‘on-to-one’ shop visits  took place across North Berwick, Haddington, Dunbar, Gretna and Lockerbie in June with a further 6 shops in Lockerbie scheduled for a visit in early July. Every visit is supported by a comprehensive Shop Doctor report detailing practical opportunities considered available to improve business vitality within each of the businesses concerned.

Commenting on the visits our Shop Doctor advised that “There continues to be  a tremendous variety of retail choice available on our High Streets with independent retailers providing a critical role in maintaining the unique identity of the fabric of a town” and added  “retailers, local councils, landlords and the general public each have an important role to play in sustaining business vitality in our towns and all need to work towards a common goal”.

The latest Shop Doctor Retail Workshop is to be delivered on Tuesday 30th April in the unusual setting of Gretna Fire Station.

Arranged by Dumfries & Galloway Council the workshop precedes one to one visits with eligible retailers in Gretna during May which also sees the start of an identical scheme for independent retailers in Lockerbie.

The support programmes for both Gretna and Lockerbie follow successful schemes delivered by Let’s Talk Shop in Dumfries, Annan and Stranraer.

Successful tenders recently submitted by Lets Talk Shop Ltd to East Lothian Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council and Argyll & Bute Council will shortly see independent retailers in Dunbar, Haddington, North Berwick, Lockerbie, Gretna and Rothesay participating in Shop Doctor Support Programmes.

This will increase the number of  Scottish towns benefiting from the bespoke advice provided to independent retailers within them to nine with over 100 individual businesses receiving one-to-one advice and in excess of that number of delegates participating in the associated retail/merchandising workshops.

The visit to Rothesay, Isle of Bute is on behalf of the Rothesay Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), a £2.6 million project currently coming toward the end of year two of a five year delivery phase. The THI project is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, Leader and Argyll & Bute Council.

As part of the Visitor Attraction Pilot Project being delivered by Dumfries & Galloway Council 12 visitor attractions across Dumfries & Galloway will be receiving advisory visits from both VisitScotland and Let’s Talk Shop.

Shop Doctor Bill Smith will be visiting each of the 12 attractions to identify business development opportunities capable of improving business performance, and onward profitability, whilst VisitScotland will be advising on routes to ensure that the attractions maintain their existing, or further improve, their quality assurance grading.

Attractions enrolled  include:

Mabie Park Farm

Cream O’Galloway

Creetown Gem Rock Museum

Drumlanrig Castle

Galloway Activity Centre

Marrbury Smokehouse

Barstobrick Visitor Centre

Hidden Treasure Museum of Lead Mining

Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre

The Whithorn Trust

Annandale Distillery

Hetland Garden Centre & Dino Park


The project is funded by ERDF  in conjunctioDumfries-and-Galloway-Logo 3n with Dumfries and Galloway PrintCouncil