IMG_8869Eight stallholders at Dumfries Farmers’ Market benefited from a visit from The Shop Doctor in May to help identify opportunities to improve their visual merchandising.  The stalls visited were A Bee Provided (honey products), Annanwater (lamb, hogget and mutton), Barlochan Highland Beef, Buy Heck! (preserves), Dessert Me, Galloway Chillies, Garrocher Market Garden and The Little Bakery.

Each stall was identified as having specific challenges.  A list of bespoke recommendations was formulated and included within a comprehensive report supplied to each of them.

The recommendations included items relating to the positioning of the stalls, presentation of each stall and the products within it, marketing material, signage, and customer service.

It is hoped that the reports will help generate improved awareness of the opportunity to better engage customer interest within a farmers’ market environment.


Let’s Talk Shop Retailer Support Programmes are to be delivered in up to 8 more Scottish towns over the next 12 months.

Recent contracts awarded by Dumfries & Galloway Council and East Lothian Council will see our Shop Doctor advising up to a further 98 independent retailers and building upon support programmes commenced in Scotland in 2013.

To date, Shop Doctor support has been delivered across 16 Scottish towns to 195 retailers. In addition to the valuable support provided directly to retailers, visiting the towns provides Let’s Talk Shop Ltd with a unique insight and understanding of issues that impact on the towns themselves.

Our Shop Doctor Bill Smith says “Being able to spend time in such a diverse range of towns, meeting with the independent businesses that help create their unique identity and with the customers that use them has helped develop a deep understanding of what helps create and sustain a vibrant town” he went on to comment “The onward challenge is to find a way of building on those opportunities to help enhance and build the economic vibrancy of the towns and the independent shops within them.”

IMG_7686Sanquhar and Kirkconnel have been the latest towns in Dumfries & Galloway to benefit from a visit from The Shop Doctor.

Following a Let’s Talk Shop workshop on the evening of Monday February 10th February ten independent businesses requested one-to-one advisory visits.

Three businesses in Kirkconnel and seven in Sanquhar were subsequently visited with The Shop Doctor spending time with the owners discussing the business and assessing the retail environment, and how it functioned.

Each of the participating businesses will be receiving a comprehensive recommendation reports detailing opportunities to help drive retail vitality, including routes to improving presentation, layout, merchandising, lighting and customer service.

Each business participating in the current Let’s Talk Shop support programme is eligible for a £500 grant from Dumfries & Galloway Council to assist towards implementation of the recommendations made.

Newton Stewart is scheduled to be the final town to be visited in the current programme with an evening workshop scheduled for delivery on Monday 14th April and one-to-one visits in the days following.


Further information about the programme and opportunities for retailers in Newton Stewart can be obtained from



Post Office branches in England (excluding Crown branches) can now apply to receive up to £10,000 to support a new scheme or service for their local community. These could include:

•    Classes in key skills such as reading, languages or the Internet
•    Mentoring and advice service for local small businesses, or display space for local producers
•    Partnership with a local charity to provide a meeting space, notice board and other forms of support
•    A hub or meeting space for community groups involved in local issues, such as neighbourhood planning

If you have an idea you’d like your Post Office to support, download and print the relevant PDF from the website, write down your idea, take it into your Post Office and have a conversation with the sub-postmaster or branch manager about what you could do together to benefit the local community.

Sub-postmasters can find out more including how to apply on The deadline for applications is Friday 18 October 2013.

The Fund is a result of a partnership between the Department for Communities and Local Government and Post Office Ltd. It is limited to supporting a maximum of 20 schemes across the country (England only) in 2013/14.

DSC_0060 croppedWith a portfolio of some 13 charity shops across the UK, LIFE recognises the importance of ensuring that its retail network delivers the best of standards and service to help ensure it can efficiently sustain and develop its charitable objectives.

The Shop Doctor was recently asked to provide a full day’s training in Rugby to some 26 staff responsible for the management of the shops.  He focused on helping them better understand how to maximise the returns available from each of their businesses by the implementation of effective merchandising practices and proficient customer service.

With the Shop Doctor’s fast-moving, fun and participative delivery style, the day proved a great success with delegates returning to their shops with renewed motivation and plenty of ideas for turning good shops into even better ones.


twitter imageFinding out what’s  happening in Windermere, Bowness and Troutbeck Bridge between quarterly issues of the printed HUB is now even easier by following @HUBWindermere on Twitter.

The next printed edition is due to be distributed by Royal Mail week commencing 25th February.

The copy deadline for the Summer edition is 29th March.

The independent review into the future of our high streets undertaken by Mary Portas has now been published and the full report can be accessed via her official website

The following is a summary of the 28 recommendations made within the report:

1.Put in place a “Town Team”: a visionary, strategic and strong operational management team for high streets

2. Empower successful Business Improvement Districts to take on more responsibilities and powers and become “Super-BIDs”

3. Legislate to allow landlords to become high street investors by contributing to their Business Improvement District

4. Establish a new “National Market Day” where budding shopkeepers can try their hand at operating a low-cost retail business

5. Make it easier for people to become market traders by removing unnecessary regulations so that anyone can trade on the high street unless there is a valid reason why not

6. Government should consider whether business rates can better support small businesses and independent retailers

7. Local authorities should use their new discretionary powers to give business rate concessions to new local businesses

8. Make business rates work for business by reviewing the use of the RPI with a view to changing the calculation to CPI

9. Local areas should implement free controlled parking schemes that work for their town centres and we should have a new parking league table

10. Town Teams should focus on making high streets accessible, attractive and safe

11. Government should include high street deregulation as part of their ongoing work on freeing up red tape

12. Address the restrictive aspects of the ‘Use Class’ system to make it easier to change the uses of key properties on the high street

13. Put betting shops into a separate ‘Use Class’ of their own

14. Make explicit a presumption in favour of town centre development in the wording of the National Planning Policy Framework

15. Introduce Secretary of State “exceptional sign off ” for all new out-of-town developments and require all large new developments to have an “affordable shops” quota

16. Large retailers should support and mentor local businesses and independent retailers

17. Retailers should report on their support of local high streets in their annual report

18. Encourage a contract of care between landlords and their commercial tenants by promoting the leasing code and supporting the use of lease structures other than upward only rent reviews, especially for small businesses

19. Explore further disincentives to prevent landlords from leaving units vacant

20. Banks who own empty property on the high street should either administer these assets well or be required to sell them

21. Local authorities should make more proactive use of Compulsory Purchase Order powers to encourage the redevelopment of key high street retail space

22. Empower local authorities to step in when landlords are negligent with new “Empty Shop Management Orders”

23. Introduce a public register of high street landlords

24. Run a high profile campaign to get people involved in Neighbourhood Plans

25. Promote the inclusion of the High Street in Neighbourhood Plans

26. Developers should make a financial contribution to ensure that the local community has a strong voice in the planning system

27. Support imaginative community use of empty properties through Community Right to Buy, Meanwhile Use and a new “Community Right to Try”

28. Run a number of High Street Pilots to test proof of concept

The Governments response will be published early in 2012.

Public toilets are not always available where or when you need them, there is often a queue at the ladies, and facilities for disabled people, children and for changing babies are not always adequate.

However, public toilet provision is at the discretion of local authorities, and there is currently no legal requirement for Councils to provide any toilets at all. In fact 40% of public toilets have closed in the last ten years. The campaign group ‘We need the Loo’, a joint venture between the Women’s Design Service, the British Toilet Association and the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering has therefore launched an online petition to ask the Government to make adequate public toilet provision a legal requirement.

They are asking for adequate toilet facilities for everybody, including men, women, children, babies and disabled people.

If you would like to play your part in ensuring we have public toilets as part of more sustainable, comfortable and inclusive communities, please publicise this petition. It has its own Facebook page, and the petition can be found by searching for public toilets on the government’s e-petition web site, or by using this link –

Well maintained, well equipped, clean and easily accessible toilets can make a real contribution to how customers use our towns – a way has to be found to improve, not remove, public toilet provision.

epetition flyer – we need the loo

epetition press release