Wedded to attention to detail
One of the consequences of the economic downturn and the resulting increase in vacant shops has been the need for innovative mitigating measures – whether that’s creating the illusion of an occupied shop, or coming up with appealing window displays that help to enliven the street scene.
Here in Newcastle, the former Mortgage Advice Centre at 53 Westgate Road is a shop/office unit that has been empty for at least a year, and that I pass on my way to work every day.
Part of the County Thistle Hotel, I was pleased to see in recent days that the space is being temporarily used to good effect, showcasing the hotel’s Wedding Open Days. The window is nicely dressed, featuring a wedding gown and suit, a table bedecked with cards and invitations, and a good looking roller banner.
The problem, however, is that no-one thought to clean the filthy windows before setting up the display. Consequently, what is supposed to come across as aspirational and luxurious rather loses its impact and appeal.
Though this particular example isn’t a live shop, it demonstrates the kind of elementary housekeeping and attention to detail that’s so important for retailers to also get right. When I recently reviewed Bob Phibbs’ the The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business, I cited his sensible assertion that “no amount of promotions, events or buzz can change a store’s unwelcoming exterior, shoddy facility or bored employees.”
If Bob’s ever on Tyneside, I think I’d better suggest that he avoids Westgate Road.