The recent Let’s Talk Shop support programme in East Lothian provided opportunity for ten independent businesses in East Lothian  to receive one-to-one advice from The Shop Doctor in the days following the retail masterclass held on the evening of Tuesday 26th August.

Businesses participating in the programme were Footlights Dancewear and Haddington Herbals in Haddington;  whynot?, Tulipa and The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick; Knowes Farm Shop in East Linton; Dunbar T-shirt Shop and 1650 Coffee Shop in Dunbar;  Cashmere Barn at Fenton Barns Retail Village and The Merrygoround in Gullane.

Each of the businesses will be receiving a comprehensive Shop Doctor Recommendations Report detailing potential opportunities to help further develop retail vitality within each of the diverse range of businesses visited.

IMG_1159 croppedHaddington Farmers’ Market, held on the last Saturday every month, also received a visit from The Shop Doctor with the objective of identifying routes to further enhance footfall to this popular and very friendly event.

Each of the 17 stalls active on the day were reviewed, as was the way in which the market as a whole engaged with customers.


IMG_1745Part-funded by the EU ERDF programme, ‘Revitalising Tourism Retail’ is based on a highly successful pilot provided last year by East Lothian Council. The programme  is once again being delivered by Let’s Talk Shop Ltd.

Independent retailers in North Berwick, Dunbar, Haddington, Gullane and East Linton have enrolled for the programme which commences on the evening of Tuesday 26th August with a masterclass looking at the challenges facing the retail sector.

In addition to the masterclass, each participating retailer will benefit from a one-to-one advisory visit from The Shop Doctor that will be supported by a comprehensive Recommendations Report identifying opportunities to help enhance retail vitality.

For more information visit the East Lothian Council website

As part of the programme, The Shop Doctor will also be visiting Haddington Farmers’ Market on Saturday 30th August.  The subsequent Recommendations Report will provide pointers to help individual stallholders refresh their offering and identify routes to enhance the market as a whole.


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.


nationalbooktown1611Wigtown will be the next town to participate in the Let’s Talk Shop Support Programme facilitated by Dumfries & Galloway Council.

A Retail Masterclass on the evening of Monday 21st July will be followed by one-to-one advisory visits from The Shop Doctor on subsequent days.

Up to 12 retailers in the town will be eligible for visits and each will be able to apply for a grant of up to £500 towards the implementation of recommendations made during the visits and within the comprehensive reports provided to each of the participating businesses.

Since the support programme commenced, over 150 independent retailers across Dumfries, Annan, Stranraer, Lockerbie, Gretna, Dalbeattie, Langholm, Thornhill, Sanquhar, Kirkconnel, Newton Stewart and Castle Douglas have been involved.

A further 68 retailers will be engaged in the scheme during the remainder of the current programme.

To register for the ‘Let’s Talk Shop’ Masterclass, contact the Council on 030 33 33 3000 and ask for Stephanie Carrick in Economic Development or e-mail

For further information on the Let’s Talk Shop Programme overall, contact Grant Coltart, Economic Development Officer, Planning & Environment Services Department on 01387 260327 or e-mail

IMG_9394Following a masterclass presentation on Monday 23 June, twelve independent retailers in the town benefited from a one-to-one advisory visit from The Shop Doctor. As in other towns already visited across Dumfries & Galloway, each received bespoke advice at the time of the visit and will receive a unique recommendations report highlighting individual opportunities to improve business vitality.

The exercise is not to criticise, but to identify ways to make good businesses even better. The Shop Doctor said “Castle Douglas is a very active town, but like so many others, is desperate to maintain and attract customers against the challenges that other retail channels now offer.  Fortunately, the town already has a very strong and diverse retail offering and it is hoped that the strength of the existing retailers will help ensure that the vibrancy of the town continues to attract new businesses and new customers.

Each of the shops receiving a report are able to apply for a £500 grant from Dumfries & Galloway Council towards implementing (some of) the recommendations.

In July, The Shop Doctor moves his attention to Wigtown where a similar support programme will be delivered.

image (12)At a recent training day attended by staff from the majority of the ten retail outlets operated by the Bethany Christian Trust in and around Edinburgh, The Shop Doctor delivered an insight into key elements that help maximise retail development within a charity retail environment.

Subjects covered included improving first impressions, window display, accessibility, internal layout, effective merchandising and the provision of good customer service.

One of the major challenges facing many charity retailers is the ability not just to attract customers, but to attract those willing to donate products suitable for onward sale.

Presenting the right image to the right customer base is critical in helping achieve both these objectives.


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.


IMG_6825The ‘Let’s Talk Shop’ Support Programme moves to Langholm, Dumfries & Galloway, from Monday 11th November.

Independent retailers in the town will be attending an evening retail workshop at the Town Hall on Monday from 5.30pm when The Shop Doctor will share his thoughts about how shops can ensure that first impressions deliver, rather than deter, customers and once they are across the threshold how retailers can maximise the selling opportunity through effective layout, merchandising and good service.

As part of the evening The Shop Doctor will also review his first impressions of Langholm and identify with the delegates attending  opportunities to help improve retail vitality in the town.

Independent retailers interested in attending should contact

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.

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.