Real solutions and advice for independent traders

The THI project is bringing change
The THI project is bringing change

Local businessman John Cowan’s firm Real Retail Solutions has advised the likes of Disney, the Commonwealth Games and Next.

Now the Dennyloanhead man has been drafted in to help small independent businesses in Falkirk who, in the past few years, have survived despite a recession, the advent of internet shopping and on-going work associated with the £5.5 million Townscape Heritage Initiative.

As part of that project, Falkirk Council has employed John to help local businesses.

As well as working one to one with local independents, John will host a series of courses to help ensure small local firms not only survive but go on to thrive.

John said: “I am delighted to be supporting Falkirk town centre retailers again to compete effectively in today’s difficult trading conditions.

“Falkirk has an amazing selection of great independent shops with superb customer- focused owners and staff.

“We want to give them the opportunity to refresh their business practices, streamline their finances and promote their products.”

Independent traders are also being offered the chance to set up stall in the Howgate.

Jacquie McArthur, Falkirk Council’s economic development officer, said: “We’re offering free access to a retail merchandising unit in the heart of the Howgate.

“All the businesses who have used it so far said it has been really worthwhile.”

Carol and Gail Wilson, of Envy Gowns in the Cow Wynd, have already used the unit.

Carol said: “It really worked for us. It helped to get our brand known and reminded people we’re on Cow Wynd.

“It boosted our presence and sales increased too.”

Business owners affected by the current works in Manor Street and Kirk Wynd have the option of offering customers free Howgate Centre parking vouchers, while those on Cow Wynd and Mission Lane can offer free vouchers for the FK1 Williamson Street car park.

THI public realm works in Manor Street are nearing completion, having been accelerated at the request of the businesses, and Kirk Wynd is powering along too.

Jacquie added: “The road will open again by December 7, in time for Christmas trade.

“It’s a lifeline for the town centre so we’re delighted.”

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland, the THI aims to breathe new life into our historic town centre.

n To book a place on John’s courses, email

Big boys of Cow Wynd

To celebrate public realm works being completed in the Cow Wynd and Mission Lane and the town’s pends and closes, a special event will be held on Saturday, December 2.

And directing people to the Cow Wynd will be two very tall characters indeed.

Known as the biggest wee pipe band in the world, the Big Boys will be strutting on stilts around the town centre heralding the event.

Jacquie McArthur said: “All of the local traders will be getting into the spirit by hosting workshops and offering promotions.

“We’ve also lined up the Big Boys, circus workshops, a jester and face painter so it will be great for all ages.”

The main aim of the day is to better promote the small independent traders the town boasts so many of, several of which are situated in the Cow Wynd.

A treasure map of the town will also help lead people to the event, which will run from 12pm to 4pm.

As a precursor, a special discount day will be held in Cow Wynd on Saturday, November 4.