Selkirk’s Chamber of Trade has been awarded nearly £22,000 to set up pop-up shops around the Royal Burgh, in order to help reverse its 30 per cent drop in pedestrian footfall.
The cash is being provided by LEADER (Links Between Activities Developing the Rural Economy) and common good fund sources.
A third of the sum (£7,200) will fund a part-time project manager for 60 days’ work to see the pop-up shop initiative from beginning to end.
Much of the rest will also be devoted to helping owners renovate empty shops and unused outbuildings in the town centre and its many historic closes.
“More than 16 per cent of retail units in the town are left vacant,” explained chamber chairman Will Haegeland, co-owner of the town’s County Hotel.
“A town centre showing boarded-up and closed-down retail units suggests dilapidation and depression. If Selkirk as a town is to survive, this trend has to be arrested and reversed.”
Within the project period, which ends on December 31, 2013, the chamber aims to find uses for at least five currently-underused shops and create three new start-up businesses and seven short-term lets.
“Selkirk Chamber of Trade and Commerce thinks it is time to regain a feeling of community and pride for the High Street,” said Mr Haegeland.
The stated aim of Selkirk’s Chamber of Trade, which was founded in 1919, is ‘to identify and advance the common interests of businesses in Selkirk and to promote the town.’
Mr Haegeland continued: “In and around Selkirk there is a vast range of arts, crafts and food produce being made, but very little of this is for sale within the town.
“The area has a high concentration of creative businesses often working from home premises, WASPS studios and light industrial workshops. Very few are acknowledged in the town centre, yet all may benefit from frequent exposure and outlets there.
“New ways of shopping such as ‘click and collect’ or ‘text and delivery’ can also be included with collection centres of distribution centres in the town.”
He added: “Despite its setting and its literary and historical associations, Selkirk does not seem to offer enough to encourage prolonged visits by tourists. Measures to improve this situation need to be supported by healthy retailing, attractive to visitors and locals.
“The pop-up shop project aims to be a real tool in moving the town centre forward and into a more exciting and vibrant place to visit. It will help encourage visitors to see Selkirk as a worthwhile destination and to extend ‘dwell-time’.”
The initiative will also assist start-up businesses, Mr Haegeland said.
“Finding retailers that are willing to give long-term leases of retail space has proven increasingly difficult throughout the economic recession,” he said.
“Retail space owners therefore need to look at new ways of filling vacant retail space. Short term rent, including by the day, week or month is a way of reducing the risk on both parties.
“We want people who are owners of empty premises to come and speak to us – because the pop-up shop will not just benefit them, but the whole town.”
The remainder of the money will fund events and marketing for the town’s new pop-up shops.
The new project manager’s role will be to focus on promotion by targeting prospective users, preparing and distributing literature and press articles, and arrange scheduling.
Further responsibilities include carrying out a short feasibility study “to test ideas, identify needed organisational measures and further develop the project scope,” the job description reads.
The application deadline is January 25, 2013, at 5pm. Applications should be submitted on the relevant application form. For more information and an application pack, please email email@example.com, or phone Will on 01750 721233 between 10am and 2pm.
Anyone interested in renting, or hiring, an empty premise for a pop-up shop, should also contact Will at Selkirk’s County Hotel.