The Shop Doctor will be returning to East Lothian at the end of January to revisit businesses in Haddington, Dunbar, North Berwick and Cockenzie.
“This will be my 6th trip to East Lothian” says Bill, “it is always good to catch up with the great range of retail operators that have previously participated in my Let’s Talk Shop Advisory programmes”.
Dependent upon retailer interest it is hoped that a further round of Let’s Talk Shop support will be facilitated later in the year in conjunction with East Lothian Council.
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
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
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.
In a recent follow up visit to Dalbeattie retailers who participated in the original Let’s Talk Shop Support Programme it was pleasing that many of them were feeling considerably more positive about their trading vitality.
Whilst there had been some shop closures in the town it is likely that it was not the economic climate alone that had contributed to their demise. Other businesses had invested and reports from those who had implemented improvements following the initial recommendations were very positive.
Whilst many of the participating retailers had taken advantage of the Let’s Talk Shop grants scheme to help introduce recommendations many were now waiting for implementation of the Shop Front Improvements Scheme to enable more robust external improvements to be undertaken.
One major improvement to the gateway impact of the town was the investment being undertaken at the Pheasant Hotel.
The dilapidated condition of the premises at the time of the original visit reflected poorly on the town and it is hoped that the major investment underway to create the Birch Tree Inn, Restaurant, Bar and Hotel will materially improve the arrival impact whilst increasing the number of bed spaces available, a positive step forward for tourism.
Excellent street sculpture elements within the enhanced public realm in Lockerbie, a great talking point.
Of the retailers originally visited it is pleasing that all but one are still providing great service to the local and visitor community although the traditional haberdashery shop Wightmans is now an Opticians.
In addition the co-operative Project Art has recently relocated its displays into Elegance making way for a new venture in the double fronted premises being vacated by them by opposite the Town Hall. Indications of a new, and very appropriate, business venture opening soon.
Two of the businesses have also expanded their offering with additional ground floor space made available at Elegance (Gift Shop) and expansion to include the adjacent shop unit at Anne Maries (Fashion). Curvaceous has relocated to smaller, but no less suitable, premises and the refurbished Margaret’s (Post Office) is also looking great, as are all of the others businesses involved in the Let’s Talk Shop Programme.
There are still a number of empty units in high visibility locations but the town felt vibrant with the enhanced public realm in the town centre providing a pleasing and visually attractive setting.
In Gretna all of the original retailers visited continue to provide to the needs of their community and great to see positive changes at Bliss (Hairdressers), McKenzies ( ex Post Office now gifts and cards), Springfield Post Office and J Kerr & Sons (Butcher). All businesses were holding their own against the draw of the nearby Gretna Gateway.