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.
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.
Spending this week visiting 20 more retailers in Dumfries engaged in the Let’s Talk Shop Support Programme funded by Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Another very interesting selection of shops all contributing positively to the diverse range available in the town. More to follow.
An evening retail workshop focusing on best practice in relation to visual merchandising and overall shop presentation is to take place on Monday 17 November at the Cairndale Hotel, Dumfries.
In this latest visit to Dumfries, in addition to the workshop, the Shop Doctor will be working with up to 32 independent retailers who will not only be receiving an advisory visit in the new year, but a mystery assessment visit between now and Christmas.
This is the final stage of the Shop Doctor Support Programmes for Dumfries & Galloway Council that will have seen some 232 shops across 15 towns visited and in receipt of one-to-one advice since March 2012.
For further information, please contact Grant Coltart on firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the Dumfries & Galloway Business Week, our Shop Doctor presented the “Bricks with Clicks” workshop on Monday 27th October. The presentation looked at the challenges facing online retailing and how shops might engage in the online opportunity.
The workshop included a formal PowerPoint presentation followed by a discussion about issues facing the retailers in attendance.
Feedback received since the workshop has indicated that the retailers attending the session found it informative and are intending to further increase their engagement online either through website development or active participation on social media platforms.
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.
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 Grant.Coltart@dumgal.gov.uk
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.