shop frontages

Fourteen of Moffat’s independent traders took part in the recent Shop Doctor support programme following the well-attended Masterclass on the evening of Monday 20th October.

An intriguing range of some of the town’s hidden gems were visited on the days following the Masterclass enabling our Shop Doctor to better understand the objectives of the individual traders and identify roots to help further improve their existing businesses.

Let's Talk Shop visits Moffat

Participating retailers included 17 Reasons, The Art Work Room, Brodies Restaurant & Wine Bar, Café Ariete, Carole’s Milk Bar, Chantillie House, Eclectic Emporium, Flowers by Fiona, Harvest Time, Manse Furnishings, Moffat Pottery, Pets Corner, Present Time and R. Little Bakers Ltd.

As with every other retailer visited in this programme, funded by Dumfries & Galloway Council, a comprehensive Shop Doctor recommendations report will be compiled, identifying the opportunities to help increase their trading vitality.

The next stage in the programme will be delivered in Dumfries from Monday 17th  November.  Retailers interested in participating should contact Grant Colthart at Dumfries & Galloway Council via

Preparations are well in hand for another series of one-to-one advisory sessions with independent retailers in Dumfries & Galloway when the Shop Doctor visits Moffat in the week commencing October 20th.

These sessions will take place on the days following a Retail Masterclass which is being presented to retailers on the Monday evening.

Our Shop Doctor comments “With the challenges facing our High Streets still impacting on trading vitality, it is essential to ensure that individual shops and their towns as a whole recognise the importance of setting themselves aside from others by becoming destinations that enhance the customer experience”.

The Masterclass and subsequent visits will help those involved in the support programme to recognise and implement routes to maximising such opportunities.

IMG_1316Week commencing September 15th will see The Shop Doctor active in Kirkcudbright as part of the current Shop Doctor Consultancy Programme commissioned by Dumfries & Galloway Council.

The schedule for the week will include the delivery of a Retail Masterclass on the evening of Monday 15th September followed by up to 12 one-to-one advisory visits to independent retailers in the town during the following days.

This will bring the numbers of towns in Dumfries & Galloway where independent retailers have been individually advised by Let’s Talk Shop up to 15 including Moffat, which is scheduled for involvement in October.

For more information click here 

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_9208Following a recent request for advice our Shop Doctor was pleased to meet with the committee responsible for running this small community shop based in an outbuilding of the Derby Arms Pub in Witherslack , Cumbria.

The committee was last advised when the shop was near to opening its doors in 2008 and, since then, although the business has seen growth some seasonal ebbing and flowing in relation to meeting local need has not yet enabled the shop to achieve its potential.

The dedicated committee of volunteers now feels that a sales plateau has been reached and have been keen to seek ways to further develop the business, hence their call to Let’s Talk Shop.

After spending some time meeting with the committee and reviewing the shop a short recommendations report has been provided identifying a list of opportunities that should help the business to develop even further. In addition it is hoped that the all involved in running the shop have been motivated by the visit and will be able to assess potential opportunities from a different perspective.

The shop is operated as an Industrial and Provident Society for the Benefit of the Community.

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.


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.”

NS monumentThe latest phase of the Let’s Talk Shop Support Programme for independent retailers in Dumfries & Galloway will provide opportunity for up to 12 businesses in Newton Stewart to benefit from a visit from The Shop Doctor.

The programme will commence with a Retail Masterclass presentation on the evening of Monday April 14th followed by three days of one-to-one visits with retailers in the town.

Independent retailers seeking to participate in the scheme are asked to contact


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