Kevin Buckle: Edinburgh needs a '˜cool cultural quarter'
I'm slightly concerned that never a week goes by these days that I'm not told by somebody that retail is all about the experience now.
Having interesting, hard-to-find things at good prices is, it appears, not enough anymore and while friendly advice can prove part of the “experience” it is better to add even more.
While making sure a visit to a shop is a pleasant experience is always to be recommended, the harsh truth of the matter is people’s obsession with shopping online is not something that can be countered with a pleasant chat and a free cup of coffee.
There are definitely things that can be done to help the high street but the burden has to go on the council to help wherever possible with overheads, rather than having unrealistic ideas about increasing spending.
There are shops these days that sadly have little custom indeed and others are busy but just not busy enough and those are the ones that need to be able to survive at that level rather than being told how they can make things better with an improved experience.
Only yesterday I heard of plans to turn another former shop in the Old Town into a bar and restaurant, right next to two cafes, and the council have to ask themselves when will it stop.
What rubs salt in the wounds is, as other cities create “cool cultural quarters”, Edinburgh council has twice abandoned the idea, first of all when Avalanche moved to the Grassmarket and then with the development of King’s Stables Road.
The problems of the high street will only be solved with positive intervention rather than creating retail theme parks of experience.