On Tuesday night the Westies discussed the state of
Nairn High Street and particularly the empty shops including the eyesore that is the
boarded up windows of the former DE Shoes. Rosemary thought that traditional retail
was not the answer as habits had changed. Graham Kerr made a call for business
rates to be reduced. There was then talk of how the presently empty premises
could be made more aesthetically pleasing. Is there anything that we can do as
a community to perhaps alleviate the problem and make the High Street look a
bit more attractive for visitors and even attract those that might be looking
for somewhere to start a business?
This observer made a contribution and suggested that more displays could perhaps be put in empty windows in the same way that Nairn County Fans, followed by NICE and the Rotary Club (Nairnshire Challenge display), made use of the shop formerly know as Occasions earlier this year. Perhaps some Gurnites will remember the “Big Shop” back in 1999 when six empty premises were transformed into performance areas.
One individual's vision manifested itself into a mini festival in the town (picture of one of the venues in this paragraph). It was the brainchild of Simon MacIntyre and showed what could be done with empty retail spaces when a bit of out of the box thinking was applied. We wouldn’t need the whole infrastructure and investment that Simon created and sourced to just fill empty shop fronts with colourful and interesting displays that could say, depict some of Nairnshire’s assets, but it would mean people stepping forward to do quite a bit of work contacting shop owners, estate agents etc, to seek permissions and then encourage groups and societies to donate materials for displays - and even a bit of paint for the boards on the former DE frontage if the owners would be willing for that to happen.
Perhaps it could be a job for the Business Association coupled with a cell of volunteer activists from NICE’s thousand plus members? Would anyone be up for such an initiative? You never know there might even be some funding around somewhere even given the new age of austerity.