SELKIRK launched its first ‘pop-up shop’ last Tuesday, when local businessman Morris Manson and his wife Jane’s shop at 48 Market Place opened as a gallery for local artists.
Selkirk chamber of trade and commerce chairman Will Haegeland said: “This is the first pop-up shop of hopefully several more. We want to create a more vibrant town centre and a bit of excitement: this is what’s here today, next week it might be something totally different.”
The idea of pop-up shops is to allow businesses to rent a shop for a day, a week or a month so they can try out an idea without being tied to long-term commitments.
Mr Haegeland said: “A pop-up-shop is not only for retailers but can be for any community groups, arts and exhibitions, crafts, tourist attractions and institutions, anyone who would benefit from high street presence over a specific period of time.
“We have some 30 per cent loss of footfall in our high street, an increasing number of empty retail places in the town, we have a huge bleed of shoppers going to neighbouring towns and we have people commenting on the internet that Selkirk is a scruffy little place. That’s something that needs to be arrested and we can try to do that by creating a town centre people want to come to.”
Contrary to fears by some local businesses that the pop-ups might hit their trade, Mr Haegeland said: “This is to create new opportunities for the retailers already here. It’s not to steal from others. If we can reinstate footfall it’s up to businesses to build on that opportunity.”
The Mansons already have others interested in using Forty Eight. And indeed the couple came up with the idea about the same time as the traders – over a glass of wine while on holiday in Marseilles.
Mr Manson, pictured right, told us: “We were just trying to think what to do with the premises.”
With his wife Jane, a former nurse, adding: It’s to try and bring something new into Selkirk.”
Local MSP John Lamont said at the opening: “It’s a novel idea and very positive move to brighten up and restore the high Street and hopefully it will attract new businesses to the town. By allowing local craftspeople and food producers to use the shops it can not only reinvigorate these empty premises but provide an opportunity for small businesses to promote and sell their goods. In turn this would help attract more shoppers into Selkirk and boost other local businesses in the area. It is undoubtedly a great initiative.”
And Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys regeneration development officer Julie Nock, who was also at the opening, said the 37 artists and crafters in the valleys are hoping to link up with the pop-up shop movement in Selkirk and exhibit and sell work. “It’s a really good initiative and a great opportunity, ” she said.