Could Stirling be the future of the Scottish shopping street? – Laura Westring

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The Book Nook store in Stirling

Jasmine Stenhouse and Leanne Brown are the best kind of double act: ending each other’s sentences by telling me about the boozy lunch where they both concluded their English degrees weren’t going to lead. to fame and fortune; what led them to buy a book on business; which prompted them to open their thriving second-hand bookstore and café at number 24 Upper Craigs last September.

The two friends were given the keys to the lackluster magnolia unit that was once a bookie on the day of the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 and spent the next two months sitting on the floor with Jasmine’s little boy, planning for the hot and welcoming space now furnished with green shelves that they themselves painted.

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“We were millennials with no savings, just a dream actually,” says Jasmine. “And we had no idea how successful it was going to be. One of our first tweets went viral and then people started coming from all over, even local writers, ”Leanne adds.

Laura Westring is inaugural member of Alfred Landecker Democracy, administrator of the John Byrne Award and head of public affairs at Amiqus

“It was so busy that in less than two weeks, we had to make our first hire. Then we brought in a baker and life improved.

“People responded so well,” Jasmine says. “Our regulars love to escape into the books that we take great care to keep. Mystery book subscriptions sell out every month.

This community-building business model, combined with a willingness to go primarily online or click and collect short-term sales, has also been key to Creative Stirling’s continued success at 44 King Street.

Spread over two floors, Creative Stirling is part boutique, community center, and events and coworking space that also hosts the local radio station, run by founding director Joe Hall and curator Paul Jenkins.

Paul, whose fashion label once supplied TopShop and Harvey Nichols, now runs the Made in Stirling store where local artists sell their wares. Like a growing number of young professionals, he returned from London to Scotland for “the peace and quality of life” and has since become a local Instagram star. Best-selling illustrator and greeting card maker Jon Bishop (The Gray Earl) told me, “I’m really proud to be involved with Creative Stirling as a freelance artist. Being able to try new collections and make decisions in store strengthens my brand. It is an excellent model.

If there are any editors who read, after meeting through Creative Stirling, The Gray Earl and I are now working on a series of children’s picture books. Yet another example of how creative community spaces have not only cultural or social value, but entrepreneurial value as well.

Founder Joe Hall said, “We exist to provide a community center for local creatives, but we’ve also made a big economic impact through Made in Stirling. It’s time to give downtowns a new sense of place by making social enterprise and business for good a central part of pandemic recovery strategies. – whether as delivery drivers or jewelry designers – we need more Book Nooks and Creative Stirlings to create jobs and make us all happier by buying local, affordable and sustainable.

Laura Westring is inaugural member of Alfred Landecker Democracy, administrator of the John Byrne Award and head of public affairs at Amiqus


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