Walking through a deserted St George’s last Saturday afternoon, I had an idea.
The walk was sparked by something I had forgotten to buy when I was in Hamilton, it was just a small thing – some seedling boxes. But I could not find any at all.
It got me thinking, why can’t some of the bigger stores in Hamilton open ‘lite’ versions in St George’s? It always bugs me that if I want an iTunes card to get a weekend movie, I have to trudge all the way into Hamilton (I live in St David’s.) If I want to browse a computer store for small things like an HDMI cable, I have to come into Hamilton.
At the moment it is the chicken and the egg scenario, but I believe that if shops opened a ‘lite’ version, even for three days a week, it would generate a critical mass that could lead to others joining in and, crucially, seeing more people shopping in the town.
Some shops already do, and they don’t do a ‘lite’ version, they have a substantial presence, but there is still plenty of empty space – so shops could even ‘share’ – and it is a renters market, so they have bargaining power.
Would the costs be more to a company? Yes – but fairly minimal I would have thought. Rent, yes. But new staff, no – you would second someone. Transport costs, yes, but minimal. Initial set up costs, yes, but minimal for a small space and it would be done by existing staff.
I believe I am right in saying that St G’s is not an economic empowerment zone. If that is the case, there should be lobbying to make that happen quickly so people can enjoy the benefits it brings and hopefully it could include incentives (tax breaks etc) to set up along the lines I am suggesting to minimize the costs of doing business in St G’s.
Walking around the town, a World Heritage Centre, and seeing it almost deserted on what should have been a busy shopping day, was dismaying. It is an amazing place, but it is slowly decaying.