Kempock Street enterprises highlight need for communities to support each other as poll today reveals strong support for future of Scotland’s high streets
Town centre businesses in Gourock are fronting a major campaign urging shoppers across Scotland to think local first.
A cafe boss, art shop owner, barber and property professional, all based on Kempock Street, are backing the Scotland Loves Local initiative.
They feature prominently the latest wave of a major multimedia drive – including an STV television advert – urging the nation to shop safely and support businesses in their community before travelling further afield or turning to online retail giants.
The Gourock businesses have spoken of the importance of townsfolks’ support for their future as details of a new poll released today shows strong support for local shopping in West Scotland.
Laurie McGilp has worked at Cafe Continental – an institution in the town for more than a century – for 18 years, since age 15, and is now its general manager.
He said: “Shopping local is important as people should be supporting what they are part of.
“Living in Gourock, you want to see your town thrive – it’s a pride thing. We have a busy high street full of independent businesses. The majority of their owners are from Gourock and we all help each other.
“After the uncertainty of the last few months, there is no better time to get behind local businesses and help them get back on their feet. It’s so important for the local economy.”
Scotland Loves Local, which is spearheaded by Scotland’s Towns Partnership with the support of the Scottish Government, is the national drive for people to support their local economies and fuel the nation’s financial fightback from Covid-19 from its grassroots, within all public health guidance.
The television campaign in which the Kempock Street businesses star symbolises the impact that shopping local can have – with money spent in one business allowing the people who work there to support others around them.
Heather Atkinson, who opened Barber & Groom six years ago, said: “By the whole community supporting each other we keep the local economy moving.
“Lockdown has seen people stay local even more so and supporting the high street, which has been great to see – and we’re certainly attracting a lot of new customers.”
That’s a trend also noticed by Andrew Bowman, the junior vice-president of Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce whose business interests include the property firm Bowman Rebecchi, two doors along from Barber & Groom.
He said: “At the start of lockdown, the circumstances meant people started using local shops more. They found that the quality and service was better.
“We’re all hoping that this continues, that people realise the benefits of spending locally and keeping their money in the local economy. There’s cautious optimism about what this means for the future. People who normally work out of town but are now home working are using local shops and services during their breaks, for example.
“We’ve some fantastic people and businesses in Gourock. A lot of money has gone into regenerating this part of the town, which has proven to have been a wise investment by Inverclyde Council.”
Lisa Keogh-Carberry has run Original Artists on Kempock Street for 22 years and has also seen that shoppers’ habits have evolved to spend more time locally.
“The nature of shopping is changing,” she said. “People have changed their shopping habits. I think they’re buying local more and also more interested in where and how things are made.
“Our customers have shown us great support through the pandemic. People seem to be more comfortable in coming out shopping in smaller towns and shops than in bigger places.”
Polling commissioned by Scotland’s Towns Partnership for the Scotland Loves Local campaign shows that 51% of people in West Scotland say they will always shop on their local high street rather than going further afield, whenever they can do so.
Of those surveyed, 94% believe there is a strong chance that many businesses on the local high street will go bust if people don’t support them.
Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said:
“The positive power of people across the region supporting their high street should not be underestimated. Every pound spent locally flips six times in the area’s economy, so the knock-on effect is significant. Thinking local first protects jobs, helps the environment and helps make our communities better places to live.
“We must embrace the remarkable spirit of localism that we have seen in recent months to ensure we have stronger, more sustainable, town centres in a fairer, better Scotland of the future.”