‘Retail incubation’ for rebirth of high streets
Efforts to breathe new life into East Lothian’s high streets have seen the creation of a new shop where unusual jewellery and personalised handmade gifts are designed and made on site.
The Makery is part of a wider community initiative to revive and sustain town centres by bringing empty shops back into use and “relocalising” services that have been lost.
Run by local artist Emma Westwater, with the support of her partner Murray Calder, the business is the first “incubee” of Dunbar’s Town Catalyst CIC (Community Interest Company).
Operating with the backing of East Lothian Council and Dunbar Trades Association, the project identifies promising businesses and offers subsidised premises and running costs for a six-month incubation period, encouraging entrepreneurs to move from online retailing to bricks and mortar – with support through the difficult start-up period.
The Makery was selected for Town Catalyst as a venture that would complement existing high street businesses, fill a gap in provision and attract shoppers from across the Lothians to Dunbar.
Since opening in April, the shop has established itself as creative hub, taking commissions from customers for customised jewellery and prints and allowing them to work with Emma to produce their own artwork. It also offers a walk-in laser cutting facility and a design service for logos, branding, leaflets and posters.
Steven Hill, of Dunbar Trades Association, says: “Making a place for new niche, attraction retail and retail service businesses is key to the long-term success of towns. This is where we believe the high street can gain a competitive advantage in a market saturated with online stores and enormous, faceless multinationals. New retail businesses face tough competition from out of town developments and internet shopping, so they need all the help they can get.”
The Makery, 98 High Street, Dunbar, 01368 865172