I read the Advertiser article about boosting the shopping in Ilkeston and thought I would get in touch with a few suggestions, as requested.
How about an Ilkeston residents’ discount card? Maybe shops could offer ten per cent discount, or something free, when you spent a certain amount etc.
You could maybe link this in with the Mango travel card that Trent Barton uses — it has a number of places (retail and restaurants) that offer discounts for Mango customers.
Or perhaps do something like you do with the vouchers you print in the Advertiser for Shipley garden centre. Something simple like that might encourage people to shop more in Ilkeston if they think they’re getting something that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
If nothing happens with the Co-op closing, that would be a real problem for the town and I hope some of the outlets, or new ones, can be persuaded to stay on in the building.
Perhaps opening a bar or restaurant in the Co-op, too, so it has a mixed use would be beneficial, like they did with the old Co-op in Nottingham.
What about offering discounted rents to local people for some of the empty properties along Bath Street, particularly towards the bottom of town?
Ilkeston needs to get shoppers in to the town but it also needs to get businesses investing in the town, too. Independent shops that are doing something different to high street chain shops would give people a reason to visit Ilkeston.
The introduction of transport up and down Bath street would also help as would reduced car parking fees — maybe do more of the type of offer that the borough does at Christmas?
If the town is to get a train station again, it will also be important to make sure there’s sufficient free/cheap public transport available from the station up to Ilkeston itself.
I don’t know if there would be much interest in special events, say on the market place, but it may be worth a go; Heanor used to do a Victorian market for May Day with Maypole dancing and I remember that it used to be quite popular.
We could always try and sell Ilkeston as a Christmas market destination — let’s be ambitious! Anything is worth a go, surely.
I hope this helps!