Having created more of a “retail community” than a shop, Jenny Potter and business partner Adam Elder are giving local makers and producers a chance to share in the revival of North Berwick High Street.
It was their own disenchantment with town centre shopping that triggered the idea for their venture – and a plan to bring like-minded traders under one roof with a sense of shared ownership.
“While there were lots of great businesses in North Berwick, there was definitely something lacking. It’s a coastal town with the sea on one side and farmland on the other and yet there was no fishmonger – despite there being a harbour – and no greengrocer,” says Jenny.
“Unfortunately, a lot of high streets nowadays no longer have the shops people are looking for.”
Opened in November 2014, whynot? has its own cafe and gallery and offers space for up to 20 retailers at any one time – listing artists, crafters and designers among its regulars, along with a fishmonger, greengrocer, baker and deli.
The former supermarket premises had been empty for a number of years and needed significant internal alterations when the opportunity first presented itself. But Adam and Jenny were concerned that the space was too big for one shop and that the rent and rates were too high for one shop.
Jenny adds: “Adam realised that getting a new business onto the High Street was extremely expensive as an individual – and a huge risk. He also recognised, however, that there were lots of talented local producers out there who needed help getting their products in front of people. At whynot? retailers can rent space, have the back up or our marketing if they need it, and they don’t have to worry about overheads.”
whynot? 91 High Street, North Berwick www.whynotnorthberwick.com. Open Mon to Sat, 10am-5.30pm; Sun, 11am- 5pm.