In response to the Advertiser’s call for ideas to regenerate or redevelop the Co-operative store in Ilkeston.
I would like to put forward an alternative idea for your readers to consider. Although demolishing the existing building and rebuilding might generate new income and trade, it will take time and involve a huge investment risk.
Meanwhile shoppers go elsewhere and Ilkeston sadly continues to decline. Any new shops would compete against those already struggling on Bath Street and around the precinct area — and new rapidly dates and becomes out of fashion, too!
So I would like to propose a venture that would use the existing building, stimulate local interest and bring visitors into Ilkeston.
Close in proximity of D.H Lawrence country, etc. Ilkeston could entice those visitors to spend time here as they travel around those areas.
The Co-op building has an enormous floor area (together with good, secure parking) and I suggest creating an antiques/collectibles and craft centre. This would be divided into stall areas according to vendors’ needs e.g. antique/collectible dealers, craftsmen/artists/booksellers/ local producers/sellers who would welcome somewhere to start and expand their businesses. Local craftsmen/artists/producers/dealers/clubs might also use areas to demonstrate/teach and do talks, etc. - the possibilities are endless!
These areas would be rented out, affordable to all, with a limited risk for each individual. A cafe (maybe retro-type for those who prefer something a bit different) could be installed to provide a meeting place for visitors or friends who enjoy a day out together. Over time money generated from the project would be used to repair and improve the building. Current interest in such places/events is obvious by the numerous TV shows on offer, and there is a growing market in retro and vintage items both in clothing and home decor. Not everyone wants modern and there are some (young and old) who are are bored by the stereotype stuff on sale in chains and enjoy looking for something a bit different that reflects their own style and individuality. Small towns which are bearing up better under economic difficulties at this time have looked beyond their own needs/requirements in an effort to increase their income by attracting outside visitors. e.g. Newark.
They offer something a bit different from the typical small town, having chains, charity shops, pound shops, specialist/select shops and cafes, etc. sitting happily alongside one another. They still cater for the local people’s needs, but know that large amounts of visitors bring in extra trade and prosperity i.e. new shops and jobs in service, supply and tourism.
Ilkeston has a proud history with some great buildings and shopfronts, nice street lighting, etc - with a bit of imagination, pride and effort these could become the backbone of a very attractive town.
I know this proposal is a bit unusual and people desperately want decent shops back in the centre of Ilkeston.
It is my sincere hope that a venture like this would have the knock-on effect of bringing these things back, and that the town will start to flourish and prosper again.
I encourage you to consider all the possibilities, and look outside the box.
Name and address supplied.