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pie-eater

The high street / town centres

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How are "the high street(s)" doing where you are from?

 

Here in the UK some of them are looking particularly grim. Some places have almost as many empty unused shops as ones that are open, or it seems that way anyway. And there's more and more cheapo discount kind of places which hardly makes a town centre more appealing.

 

Hard to see how it will swing round but there are obviously a ton of small businesses, and big businesses, having a very rough time indeed out there.

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Dead as a door nail here. Every year some council member comes up with a new way to revive the area. It's just like you said, half the shops closed, the other half selling very cheap crap. At least in the UK the main street building have some kind of charm to them, out here a lots of them are 1970's concrete and glass boxes.

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Bit different in Perth.

Have not noticed any empty stores or sad scenes on the high street areas.

However I have noticed a revitalization of the cafe scene, and gourmet butcher/gourmet fruit and veg etc with loads of value added products. The kind of stuff that used to be missing from Perth.

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The town I grew up in has reasonably thriving front street which is an old village center, but that's mainly because the bars attract people from other neighbouring towns.

Compared to a traditional high street though, the make up is quite different. There's about four estate agents (hopefully struggling), four curry houses, a pet groomer, a nail place, ....

There's a butcher who does great pies but I don't think there's a greengrocer or other traditional shops like ye olde ironmonger, habedashery, and other words I can't remember and probably can't spell.

 

The high street of Gateshead, the nearest big town, has been a running joke for depravity and general chavdom for at least twenty years. 16 year old girls pushing prams and smoking tabs.

 

Blame the car and shit urban planning. I don't think the French have let it happen to them, so it's not inevitable. Thatcher's old man was famously a grocer, but that kind of bloke wouldn't have much of a hope these days, partly thanks to his daughter's policies. It means folks have one less chance of having their own business.

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Service economies are these amazing chimeras. It might just be because i moved around a lot as a kid (forces brat), so routinely got to see pockets surge and then collapse back in on itself (kilmarnock being my absolutely profound experience of the decline and fall of a city), but it was always hard to see just what was keeping the dregs afloat to be honest.

We dont produce anything any more. The mines were shut down, the farms were all homogenized and monopolized by super farms, and its not like ayrshire is the seat of culture (well, aside the birthpace of wallace - thats right, i went there! - and of course rabbie burns), so its hard to see what it is that kept it going for even this long.

 

Two things then: Tourism and services. And the awesome aspect of service economies is of course that the people working on them are getting ever shittier wages because their expenses (rent and tax) are continually going up, whilst their wages are remaining stagnant. And since a service economy is very much built on those people no longer being able to afford to waste their cash on the services that they provide, its hardly a miracle to watch this all implode.

 

I remember about twenty years ago moving to newcastle literally as swan hunter was being closed down. The ashington colliery had already been closed for a couple of years if i remember right (or it was operating on a skeleton staff and due to close). For about 4 years there was literally nothing for the people of Tyneside except retail and maybe the council. I remember being shunted into "jobclub" and just seeing all these former shipbuilders (i lived in wallsend), being pushed into taking random bullshit work experience for dead end jobs that harnessed none of their experiences. Youd do one work experience stint, then youd be back signing on, and in 13 weeks youd be back in job club doing another stint. No real jobs existed and it was, even to my young head at the time, absolutely astonishing that the government could shut down an entire industry and have **** all plan on what to do to replace it.

 

Around the late 90s suddenly there was a gold rush in south tyneside. Finally the tax breaks were paying off and tech companies moved in. The news wouldnt shut up about the great miracles of the new processor industry and how it was going to finally build stability and growth. And once their tax breaks were over, off they went leaving yet another hole.

 

In fact this reminds me of my parents. They both got jobs working for compaq. They came to ayrshire in the mid 90s. The second the breaks ran out though, off they went. You couldnt unionise either. My mother was told point blank (when she tried to bring one in - im the product of a pretty left wing family) was theyd just **** off somewhere else without a union. It was cheaper for them in the long run to relocate because we were subsidising them with massive breaks all over the north of the UK because there was a makeshift dismantling of massive state employers and absolutely no strategy put in place to deal with the fall out. So Lanarkshire was competing with ayrshire, was competing with tyneside, was competing with teeside to try and bring in these companies and offering them wage caps, tax breaks, and subsidies to bring them there. Deregulation is brilliant. Put regions in competition with each other, drive down wages, and bring in "investment". The reality was more like a swarm of locusts... And people were talking about "the end of boom and bust..." They should have just nipped to Newcastle and watched waves of "new industries" rise and fall and no general overriding strategy for long term stability. Short term gains with complete faith in some kind of invisible hand that a swarm of other parasites would start feeding off these industries but only without all the breaks and help 'kickstart' growth. Obviously it didnt work out quite like that.

 

Gentrification bought them a few more years though. not quite sure what theyll do now after this recession...

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Things are thriving around here. There's some turnover of businesses but rarely any vacant shops. Overall it's a reasonably wealthy little town as there's been a big influx in recent years of cashed up retirees moving out of the city and coming down to be by the sea.

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As a kid I remember shopping with my Nanna in the same street that is practically derelic now. It was thriving back then.

The reason for the decline is obvious here. Two massive shopping malls that I have witnessed grow 6 fold in size.

Working mums, busy families and the need for convenience has killed the main street.

It's a way more efficient way to shop but I hate malls. Probably because I work in them a lot.

It amazes me the effort to detail that the management with go to to ensure the perfect 'shopping experience' for the punter.

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I love my local strip of traditional old stores. They all have a modern twist, but have had to if they wanted to survive against the new big shopping mall recently opened only 2km away with all the sparkly new customer experience stuff.

 

There is the bookcaffe, tables and chairs and concertina glass doors to create and indoor outdoor atmosphere when the weather permits. They serve outstanding coffee and tea, gourmet cakes and light lunches. They also sell a great array of books and some gifts/wrapping paper/cards. Handy for a last minute gift.

 

There is a traditional barber.

 

The value added gourmet butcher who will even cook your meal for you if you pre order. All the traditional cuts of high quality, some specialty game meats, and then the ready to cook stuff - ALL YUM! He also sells outstanding chutneys and artisan breads.

 

Next door is an old independent grocer (small supermarket) - it used to be shite, but the new owner has transformed it to carry all the staple needs of a small grocery store plus heaps of gourmet stuff you can't get elsewhere. He does his own choc coated nibble mix with super healthy seeds and nuts, muesli's, cookies etc. The personal service is there too...last week when I asked about a rare product that they had carried but I couldn't find on the shelf he went and got it for me, and then while chatting about nutrition and health snacks he gave me a few sample pots of his store made stuff. Awesome!

 

The electrical and hardware store is closing down, not sure what will go in there...but it was pretty untidy.

 

Kitchen Express does home made gourmet pies, sausage rolls, rolls etc. they do a roaring trade with the local high school.

 

The nail salon has just been replaced by a gourmet coffee house. Apparently awesome, but I haven't tried it yet.

 

The old news agent run by the grumpy guy from hell has been replaced by a gift shop with beautiful and unusual and expensive gifts.

 

Next is the Pizza place...gourmet pizzas baked in a proper pizza oven, they do home delivery to the local area - and have saved my bacon from having to cook a number of times.

 

Post office. Gotta have a post office. Nice lady used to run it, sadly it has been taken over by a couple of grumpy Indian fellows. I find I am using it less.

 

Ladies hairdresser. Popular with the local elderly ladies going in for a blue rinse and rollers.

 

Real estate agent

 

Fish and chip shop. Lovely family that run that. Quality food, quality clean oil, old fashioned service.

PB brings them a big bag of picking onions every now and again and our order is alway a little on the generous side.

 

Grog shop.

Always have chilled champagne. Always have at least one brand of French champagne on special. Got my business.

 

It's a pretty good set up. If you aren't doing well then it is stupid to continue doing the same old expecting things to improve. These guys have realized that they have to offer a point of difference in the community. Provide something people want and need and you will be busy.

I want to be able to pull up and grab an easy yummo dinner with great fresh produce - something different and tempting, but healthy as well. While I am there grab the milk we are out of, a cake for tomorrows morning tea and a last minute birthday gift for the kids party son only just informed me about... They meet my needs. Win.

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Centre of town is quite variable (depending on who you talk to). However, there are a few things that are apparent.

A fairly large, regional city, with a few "satellite" suburbs. The centre of town has been canibalised by the big stupormarkets (notably Woolies and Hardly Normal) who have created their own large shopping precincts well away from the CBD.

From their perspective, the lower cost of rental/ownership of premises outside the CBD is the attraction. It also means that they can build a huge complex and tie up big national chains to fill the smaller (peripheral) stores they put in there. This recoups them a significant rental income on top of their retail sales income. Nice little earner, that!

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I wonder if there is much difference in the rents paid on high st compared to the shopping malls. Would be interesting to know.

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Friends have a franchise store in a large centre - freaking expensive rents! Ridiculously so. Because they can guarantee passing customer trade, and the franchise head office is all for that...

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Centre of town is quite variable (depending on who you talk to). However, there are a few things that are apparent.

A fairly large, regional city, with a few "satellite" suburbs. The centre of town has been canibalised by the big stupormarkets (notably Woolies and Hardly Normal) who have created their own large shopping precincts well away from the CBD.

From their perspective, the lower cost of rental/ownership of premises outside the CBD is the attraction. It also means that they can build a huge complex and tie up big national chains to fill the smaller (peripheral) stores they put in there. This recoups them a significant rental income on top of their retail sales income. Nice little earner, that!

 

Woolies?

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Woolies = Woolworths (large supermarket chain in Australia)

Hardly Normal = Harvey Norman (large electrical/electronics chain retailer in Australia)

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I remember about twenty years ago moving to newcastle literally as swan hunter was being closed down....

 

Thanks for that. I've not lived in the NE since 1987 myself but it all sounds right. Back then, Gateshead was definitely the poor relative that Newcastle didn't want to know. Once the regeneration started coming, it went from being the "Gateshead Angel" to "The Angel of the North" and the riverside rejuvination on the Gateshead side was sucked into this new concept of "Newcastle-Gateshead", the name used for the City of Culture bid. All a bit cheeky really.

 

Afaik, the biggest employer in Newcastle is the university. With the fees so high now and lots of graduates without jobs, maybe that's a bubble that will burst too.

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Out of town shopping centers are also killing lots of shopping arcades in Japan. People call them "shutter-gai" for all shops that are closed.

 

Aside from urban decay, the problem comes when you have some otherwise active old people who can't drive cars.

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Very interesting to hear all that thanks.

 

Is that "Woolies" any relation to the one that died in the UK a few years back?

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Thanks, Mama - Work interferes with the net surfing a bit! :omg:

 

Shoulda remembered that I was talking to an international audience.

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The old style Japanese town centers have always looked rather grim to me.

Got to wonder how on earth some of those places can stay open.

They simply can't be making any money.

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I love my local strip of traditional old stores. They all have a modern twist, but have had to if they wanted to survive against the new big shopping mall recently opened only 2km away with all the sparkly new customer experience stuff.

 

There is the bookcaffe, tables and chairs and concertina glass doors to create and indoor outdoor atmosphere when the weather permits. They serve outstanding coffee and tea, gourmet cakes and light lunches. They also sell a great array of books and some gifts/wrapping paper/cards. Handy for a last minute gift.

 

There is a traditional barber.

 

The value added gourmet butcher who will even cook your meal for you if you pre order. All the traditional cuts of high quality, some specialty game meats, and then the ready to cook stuff - ALL YUM! He also sells outstanding chutneys and artisan breads.

 

Next door is an old independent grocer (small supermarket) - it used to be shite, but the new owner has transformed it to carry all the staple needs of a small grocery store plus heaps of gourmet stuff you can't get elsewhere. He does his own choc coated nibble mix with super healthy seeds and nuts, muesli's, cookies etc. The personal service is there too...last week when I asked about a rare product that they had carried but I couldn't find on the shelf he went and got it for me, and then while chatting about nutrition and health snacks he gave me a few sample pots of his store made stuff. Awesome!

 

The electrical and hardware store is closing down, not sure what will go in there...but it was pretty untidy.

 

Kitchen Express does home made gourmet pies, sausage rolls, rolls etc. they do a roaring trade with the local high school.

 

The nail salon has just been replaced by a gourmet coffee house. Apparently awesome, but I haven't tried it yet.

 

The old news agent run by the grumpy guy from hell has been replaced by a gift shop with beautiful and unusual and expensive gifts.

 

Next is the Pizza place...gourmet pizzas baked in a proper pizza oven, they do home delivery to the local area - and have saved my bacon from having to cook a number of times.

 

Post office. Gotta have a post office. Nice lady used to run it, sadly it has been taken over by a couple of grumpy Indian fellows. I find I am using it less.

 

Ladies hairdresser. Popular with the local elderly ladies going in for a blue rinse and rollers.

 

Real estate agent

 

Fish and chip shop. Lovely family that run that. Quality food, quality clean oil, old fashioned service.

PB brings them a big bag of picking onions every now and again and our order is alway a little on the generous side.

 

Grog shop.

Always have chilled champagne. Always have at least one brand of French champagne on special. Got my business.

 

It's a pretty good set up. If you aren't doing well then it is stupid to continue doing the same old expecting things to improve. These guys have realized that they have to offer a point of difference in the community. Provide something people want and need and you will be busy.

I want to be able to pull up and grab an easy yummo dinner with great fresh produce - something different and tempting, but healthy as well. While I am there grab the milk we are out of, a cake for tomorrows morning tea and a last minute birthday gift for the kids party son only just informed me about... They meet my needs. Win.

 

Sounds good that Mamabear.

Does Australia do "pretty village/town centres", like you might imagine similar one here in the UK?

Never been impressed with the look of Japanese towns unfortunately, they generally look.... messy.

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No, not really. Not compared to the UK. Towns in Oz are really just somewhere to go get your petrol, beer and food.

Not always in that order either :happyshades:

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Out of town shopping centers are also killing lots of shopping arcades in Japan. People call them "shutter-gai" for all shops that are closed.

 

Chriselle may put me right here, but I got that impression when I spent a few days down in Ito in Izu-hanto, though I don't know if it was an out-of-town shopping centre to blame or just a general decline in the town's fortunes.

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My missus is from the area around Toyota in the east of Aichi and all the suburbs/bed towns around there seem to have a mall or a large supermarket + other shops type complex. Something that the majority of customers will drive to. The same towns have stations with increasingly run-down retail nearby.

 

The companies running such malls/complexes go by names like Aeon, Apita and Ito-Yokado.

 

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%B7%8F%E5%90%88%E3%82%B9%E3%83%BC%E3%83%91%E3%83%BC

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