Tuesday April 12th sees the commencement of another round of Let’s Talk Shop activity across East Lothian.
Following presentation of an evening retail workshop in Haddington on Tuesday 12th our Shop Doctor will be carrying out up to ten one-to-one advisory visits to independent retailers in the area during the rest of the week.
This will be the third occasion that Let’s Talk Shop has been contracted by East Lothian Council to work with retailers and the initial visits will be followed up with a revisit to monitor progress and identify any new opportunities later in the year.
In my recent revisit to retailers in Kirkcudbright it was pleasing to see that many had taken on board recommendations made to them following my original one-to-one visits.
Internal changes implemented within many of the shops was identified as helping to materially improve the way customers “shopped the shop” and contributed towards a more active retail environment during what had not been the best of trading years.
Grant assistance from Dumfries & Galloway Council had also enabled a number of the businesses to upgrade their shopfront presentation and the examples show some after (on the left) and before (on the right) images of a small selection of the businesses visited.
Whilst some changes are quite subtle (such the graphics in the window at Belfry Cafe) and the simple repaint at Wm Law other retailers such as Kennedy’s and Tollbooth Gifts have delivered more dynamic change and materially improved their impact in the town.
With the majority of shops in Kirkcudbright occupied the town presented a varied and active retail environment and, like so many of the towns in Dumfries & Galloway, one well worth visiting.
Thought provoking and entertaining insight into the effective use of the ever changing world of Social Media from Justin and always enlightening to hear the story of the online development of Rosetta Brands.
The Invest in South Lakeland Team at South Lakeland District Council are holding a free Business and Networking Event on Thursday 10 March at Low Wood Hotel, Ambleside.
Taking your product to the online market
Nick Comer, Rosetta Brands Ltd
Improving your high street presence
Bill Smith, The Shop Doctor, Let’s Talk Shop Ltd
Social Media & Twitter for Business
Justin Grammer, PS Business Matters
Doors will open from 6pm for networking, refreshments and registration and the event will start at 6.30pm finishing at 8.30pm.
This free event is open to any South Lakeland businesses including those wanting to re-locate to this area.
Please register online on www.southlakeland.gov.uk/b2b (please note that places are limited to 2 attendees per company).
The Invest in South Lakeland Team at SLDC
Jamie Reed MP for Copeland had recently asked a parliamentary question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to whether he plans to offer deadline extensions for tax due by businesses affected by flooding in Cumbria.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) operates a dedicated Severe Weather helpline to offer help and advice on any tax matters to those people and businesses affected by the recent flooding. The helpline is 0800 904 7900
Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 8.00 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8.00 am to 4.00 pm, excluding bank holidays.
HMRC will also:
consider instalment arrangements where customers are unable to pay as a result of the floods;
agree a practical approach when individuals and businesses have lost vital records to the floods;
suspend debt collection proceedings for those affected by the floods; and
cancel penalties when the customer has missed statutory deadlines due to the floods.
If your business has been affected by the December floods the team at Cumbria Chamber of Commerce can almost certainly help, and they have previously helped Cumbrian businesses through Foot & Mouth, the 2005 Floods and the 2009 Floods.
Whether you have been flooded directly or are affected indirectly (for example through staff evacuations or your supply chain), download their Business Continuity Checklist for a list things to think about and do immediately and see their Business Recovery Toolkit for more information to support your recovery. See http://www.cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk/news/article/december-floods
Advisers are available, free of charge, to help you deal with the immediate impact and through the recovery process – call 0844 257 8450 or email email@example.com
The Rural Shops Alliance is becoming aware that current Rural Shop owners wishing to refurbish or expand their business and those looking to purchase a rural shop are finding it increasingly difficult to secure loans and mortgages from banks and other providers.
They would like to hear from anyone who has been refused a loan or mortgage or had any other similar problems, particularly if a specific reason for refusal of the loan or mortgage has been given.
Please contact Gary Hepburn at the RSA via: firstname.lastname@example.org
During my recent return to Langholm, it was pleasing to see the progress made by the shops visited during the initial phase of the Let’s Talk Shop support programme.
Most significant was that achieved by Cut The Mustard Gallery who, having relocated to the shop next door since my original visit, have undoubtedly transformed their business and its impact on the High Street.
Where the original premises had been relatively confined and limited in display potential, the new gallery provides excellent space from which to materially develop their business opportunities. The gallery also adds new dimension to the existing craft focus within the town, one that itself helps to draw additional footfall to the town. Relocation obviously came at considerable cost but, thanks to a very supportive and forward-looking landlord (who also provides valuable assistance to other retailers in the town who occupy shops owned by him), the transformation was achieved. When originally visited, the owners of Sticks ‘n’ Stuff received advice as to how to set out their recently purchased shop premises. At the time, the shop was an empty shell and in need of considerable refurbishment. Now completely refurbished, the shop complements others in the town. It provides walking sticks made on the premises as well as all the components required to make your own alongside a range of collectible items. Abbotts Chocolate Shop and Blue Moon Crafts have also made significant changes to help to engage customer interest more effectively.
At Langholm Gallery the simple removal of the wooden screening immediately behind the window has noticeably improved the visual impact of the window display itself and made the shop interior a far brighter environment in which to shop and work.
One of the recommendations made following my visit to The Old School, Dumfries earlier in the year was the need to enhance awareness of activities being undertaken inside the building.
Located slightly away from the town centre, the premises themselves delivered little indication that they provided accommodation to an interesting variety of small businesses.
It was pleasing to receive today the following comment and photographs from Rachel Speedie of The Art Room, one of the businesses operating in The Old School building. Rachel is helping to coordinate improvements to business vitality within the building.
“I just wanted to show you what got installed today at The Old School in Dumfries, apparently they can be seen from Brooke Street, but also DGOne & the Lidl traffic lights too!
So THANK YOU!! None of this would have been possible without you…Rachel”
The entrance to the premises are to the left-hand side of the building, immediately off the access road to the customer car park.
Signage has also been installed on this facing of the building, further developing the opportunity to inform a wider audience about the presence of this small oasis of business activity.
It is easy to pass through Thornhill without full appreciation of the selection of retailing gems operating from this attractive small town close to Drumlanrig Castle.
With free parking, public toilets, tearooms, cafes and hotels the number of shops may be relatively small, but the service provided and variety of products sold is large.
From the intriguing setting of Thomas Tosh, a cafe-gallery-retailer-venue based in the historic Old Parish Hall building in East Morton Street to the fashion delights at Voila and 101 Boutique time spent in Thornhill can certainly enhance the shopping experience.
Helping satisfy those seeking interior design and home accessories BQA Gifts, operated by The Buccleuch and Queensberry Arms Hotel, provides a wealth of intriguing items for the home and A1 Curtain Design deliver the skills and materials to compliment any home.
Hillhouse and Hunter have retained the traditional setting of the original business within their family run hardware store and, at the end of West Morton Street, Antiques at Zitan dislay original Chinese elegance for the home.
Of the ten businesses originally advised under the Let’s Talk Shop Support Programme 8 are still very much in business, one is closing down due to retirement ( the owner is now 84 ) and another, The Happy Potter Ceramic Cafe, is now Latte Da Tearoom.
All in all Thornhill sustains an intriguing mix of retail opportunity highly reliant on attracting customers seeking the service, quality and setting available. In addition on-line accessibility of many of the businesses concerned adds further dimension to individual business opportunities helping to sustain the businesses in the longer term.