Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Community Owned Retail -- Resources from the UK

I have written about the rise of community owned retail/cooperative initiatives in rural areas of the US as a way to keep retail options available in communities with shrinking residential population.

The Village Shop, Feckenham, Worcestershire, UK

At the same time, I think community owned retail might be an option for impoverished urban areas, or some kind of hybrid social-public-private ownership scheme, because these areas have the same problems that rural areas have in terms of reduced economic circumstances making their areas unattractive to traditional retailers and restaurants.

I'm not saying it would be easy to do.  Urban stores have real problems in terms of attracting quality staff and have big problems with what is called "shrinkage" or stolen goods--not just by "patrons" but also employees.

But it's a way to offer retail coverage that might not otherwise be obtainable.  Combining public sector elements, like a community health clinic with a pharmacy, or a WIC/food stamps center and community kitchen with a supermarket, might be a way to pull it off.

Similarly, restaurants could be run by food service training programs as part of high school and community college vocational programs.  Etc.

The UK's Plunkett Foundation is focused on quality of life in rural communities and because of the shrinking population in many rural areas, they have a number of programs promoting co-operatives, community shops, community pubs, and other enterprises.

--  Community Shops, Plunkett Foundation
--  Community Pubs, Plunkett Foundation
--  Community Food Enterprises, Plunkett Foundation
--  Publications, Plunkett Foundation

These resources likely would prove useful in US settings.

The Plunkett Foundation offers a membership program for such shops, which includes bulk buying schemes and technical assistance.

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