There’s empty shops all around, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Auckland, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne, London, LA – they’re everywhere, not only is this an indication of the effects of an economic downturn, but it can have another effect, it can says to shoppers “this street is past it use by date” thus affecting other retailers in the area.

Years ago I worked in Wellington, with a sizeable number of empty shops approached real estate agents, and suggested they offer empty shop frontages (windows) to nearby retailers for display purposes. It worked for a few months, not everyone liked the idea, but it worked, retailers had another display area, others could see the potential of the space and shoppers no longer felt they were on  deserted street – a win win.

But now I’m thinking wouldn’t it be great if landlords gave space to community organisations – along the lines of pop-up shops.

It would possibly give renewed energy to a street, it would likely attract potential tenants through talk about the landlord and the community spirit they had, it would also give pedestrians something to look at besides “for lease” signs – and yes, it would give community organisations a shop frontage to show the work they are doing in the local community.

If this were to happen, some ground rules would be needed – how these would come about would require input from local business, community and community organisations – the last thing anything like this would want to do is harm any current business – that would defeat the purpose.

I’ve mulled this idea for sometime, and have been rethinking it since reading “Reimagining the high street: how empty shops can become community hubs

Can this be done in your area? Can community organizations make use of vacant space – hell yea, all it will take is some imagination, some forward thinking on the part of landlords (and generosity), but it can be done.

How do you go about it in your area – contact local business associations, real estate agents, council – lobby them, put a case together. Remember they will all want to know “what’s in if for me” – so have this clear before making any approach.

Is this happening in your area, who’s doing it, who’s doing it well – what can others learn from what’s happening – please share your thought and comments. 

One thought on “Empty shops – a blot on the streetscape, why not give them to charity?

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