Invest in your future and Shop Local

Linton Smith, owner of GW Smith in Falkirk town centre, is backing the Shop Local campaign

Linton Smith, owner of GW Smith in Falkirk town centre, is backing the Shop Local campaign

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The last time you spent a pound in your local high street, did you know you helped to support your entire community?

Keeping more money and profitable businesses closer to home not only creates a vibrant local society but gives the area the ability to pull in visitors from across the country.

That’s why The Falkirk Herald is today launching a campaign to encourage readers to Shop Local, whether it be in Falkirk or any of the other towns and villages in the district.

Those in charge of keeping the area an attractive shopping destination say that, despite the economic downturn, it is in a far better position than most to celebrate what we already have.

Alastair Mitchell, Falkirk’s town centre manager, said: “There’s so many strengths, particularly the fact that we have a lot of independent stores rubbing shoulders with the big national names.

“Because of the times we live in, town centres have been challenged. We cannot ignore the fact that some big names have gone bust or closed a number of shops,

“It’s not our fault, but it’s our problem to try to deal with.

“But it’s not all doom and gloom, and there’s a lot happening to make sure our town centre is a clean, safe, and attractive place.”

In the coming months, the Scottish Government will embark on a major survey of all the country’s town centres.

When its findings are published, the document will reveal the direction they will be going in the future.

Mr Mitchell said: “Town centres are never going to be full to capacity with retail units again, but there will probably be a move towards other types of business, like leisure and entertainment.

“We know we have competition – from neighbouring town centres and from the Internet – and, just to top it off, we are facing tough times when there are fewer customers and less money.

“But we’ve asking people who have maybe not been in the town centre for a while to come back and look at it and see the shops we have, big or small.”

Recently, Falkirk Delivers was awarded £100,000 to promote the area to people who live within an hour-and-a-half away.

This campaign will encourage visitors from Fife, Lanarkshire and other districts to make the effort to come to Falkirk and see what’s on offer.

Mr Mitchell said: “We want to rekindle that relationship because we have got a great product to sell.”

But central to the message of Shop Local is that businesses play a key part in our society.

Mr Mitchell said: “We’ve all used the Internet for shopping, but town centre shops and our town centres are more than that.

“This is where we live, where we shop, where we meet our friends, where we go out for entertainment, and it’s probably the place we were educated.

“As far as the local economy is concerned, local employment is one of the largest sectors in the area.

“It generates a huge amount of revenue for our area,

“And new businesses are still investing in the area.”

Local businessman Linton Smith, who owns GW Smith on Falkirk High Street, agrees.

He said: “We have often looked at developing a unique selling point for Falkirk and the obvious thing is the strength we have in our independent shops. The variety has put Falkirk in a far better position, and these shops are anchored by the big nationals.

“And new shops are opening in the town, some of them are traditional businesses such as the fruit and veg shop and the therapy workshop in the east end.

“There’s also a new butcher, a bakery in Manor Street, and the new Italian restaurant in the town centre.

“Both the private sector and the public are acutely aware of the requirements of the town and I think that everyone involved with keeping Falkirk an attractive town centre are firing on all six cylinders.

“Looking to the future, I think that there will be different elements rather than retail making up our town centres.

“In terms of business use, we have a fabulous new facility called The Hub in the old tax office.

“It offers flexible terms to cater for business requirements. You can rent a desk or a conference suite for as long as you like, so Falkirk is ahead of the game here.”

Councillor Dennis Goldie, convener of economic strategy and development said: “Town centres in the Falkirk area offer a terrific range of shops and services and these play a vital role in each town’s economy.

“Falkirk Council is taking the actions it can to develop what’s on offer in each town centre.

“We also support the efforts to urge people to Shop Local.”