Aye up. Nellie here again. Meanqueen has asked me to do another post, I think she is too darn idle to write one herself, ha ha. I'm sure you'd rather hear from me anyway. so here goes.
What do you think of this Mary woman mucking about with the High Streets then? She has worked in a few posh shops in her time, and now she is known as Mary Queen of shops, an authority on retail and brand communication, whatever that means. Shopping is all about brands these days isn't it, can't be seen out with the wrong brand emblazoned across your chest, oh no Siree, everything has got to be the right brand.
I've got my own brand you know, Nellie Chuffin Knowitall, from Stating the Bleedin Obvious. My web site will be branded when I have time to finish it, in the meantime I'm riding on the back of Meanqueen's blog, Life After Money. She's one of the few people that I know who are genuinely money savvy, she doesn't spend a dime unless it is absolutely necessary. I'm not saying she never spends any money, oh no Siree, but she is not swayed by any advertising whatsoever, and every penny that leaves her purse is spent on something that she needs. The 'wants' are what she can afford to pay for in cash, out of the money left over. That's called savvy budgetting. She aint no pushover where personal finances are concerned.
Anyway, back to this Mary woman, apparently she has been given lots of dosh to hand out to twelve pilot towns around the country, to be used to spruce up the High Streets, which are crumbling into rapid decline. Have you noticed how many empty shops there are, you must have been walking around with your eyes closed if you haven't, or perhaps you live in a posh area where everyone has money to throw away.
I have got my own theories on why town centre's look a mess, and what can be done to breath new life into them. I think the government should give me a load of dosh to sort the problem out, ha ha. For a start there are two different types of shoppers, those that are flush with money and those who have very little. The posh folks are moaning about all the cheap and tacky pound shops, and charity shops, that are taking over the High Streets, so they are going out of town to the big shopping centre's to flash their plastic. Well I say, let them, you just wait till they lose their jobs, unemployment benefit doesn't buy you much from Marks and Sparks, or Debenhams, and suchlike. They will soon come running back to the High Street and the discount stores, after they have swapped their BMW's and Range Rovers for a Vauxhall Corsa.
So, what can be done to the High Streets to make them look more appealing. Well for a start they should make a law stating that every shop keeper is responsible for the pavement at the front, they should go out and sweep up the rubbish once every hour. It should be law that they have to spruce up their shop front with a lick of paint when it looks shabby. Shabby is not a good look to entice people to the High Street, or inside their shop. Their window displays should be freshened every week with new stock on display.
What about out in the street. They should get rid of all 'A' boards scattered around making the place look untidy. Only advertising at the front of the shop allowed. There should be benches to sit for a while after a hard days shopping, and they should be washed every morning by the shop keepers nearest to them. A few tubs of flowers would be nice. If a town centre is blighted by messy pigeons like ours is, the shop keepers should be out there every morning with a bucket of hot soapy water to give the place a swill down. Folks don't want pigeon crap all over their shoes, they won't come back. They should also extend 'no smoking' zones to the whole of the High Street. Hanging around in shop doorways puffing on a fag is a disgusting sight, I always give them a wide berth, never mind going in the shop and getting a face full of fag breath. Yuk, no thanks.
Another idea I have is that an empty shop can be turned into a creche. How many times have you been in a shop where someone is dragging a couple of screaming kids around with them. Oh my, the squarking and the tantrums drive me nuts. Why not drop them off with a child minder employed by the council, for a couple of hours, and pick them up later when the shopping is done. A much better shopping experience all round, and the kids have more fun.
What sort of shops should be in the High Street? Well if all the posh folks have gone out of town, lets have more charity shops, more recycling, more food shops, more markets, more small specialist shops, but they have to be affordable, to folks like me with not much money. The rents should be made cheaper to get new shop keepers in.
Any large building vacated by a large department store should be turned into an indoor market by dividing it up into single units. They should be rented to those who wish to start a business, at a very low rent, to get them going. They would not be locked in to a long contract, so if they find their business is not working they can vacate their unit without too much bother.
Any empty shop fronts should be tarted up, given a lick of paint, and some displays put in the window to make it look tidy. There should be no empty shop windows. If any shopkeepers close their business and move on, it should be the law that they have to take every stick of rubbish with them, clean the place up, and provide attractive looking posters and pictures to decorate the windows. This would then give the impression that the closure is just temporary and there will be new tenants along shortly.
There should be a law saying no more rip off shops allowed, like money lending for extortionate interest rates, furniture and household appliances on the never never like Brighthouse, no more betting shops, and no more grubby boozers.
Oh, and another thing, all town centre cars parks should be free parking 24/7. Get rid of half the traffic wardens, cut the wage bill, and those left just to monitor illegal street parking. In fact there should be no illegal street parking at all, so sack all the wardens. When the posh folks get fed up of driving out of town and tramping up and down endless, mindless, shopping malls which all look the same, they will be hankering to get back to their friendly and pleasant town centres.
Simple innit, stating the bleedin obvious, that's what I do.
Lots of love from Nellie xxx