A Very Colourful Solution!

From all the interesting repurposing ideas we’ve looked at for regenerating our high street, it’s clear that for any strategy to succeed it must be both sustainable in the long term and offer immediate practical support in the interim. Incubator Stores – Offering small “bedroom” start-up businesses the chance to grow with new low / no cost pop-up shops, so they can take their businesses to the next level is a great idea that ticks all the boxes. Some councils have already started experimenting with this, offering rent / rates free premises for a fixed period. This has been welcomed by established businesses, who can see the benefit of the additional footfall these new niche stores will attract.

Going one step further and re-purposing large department stores to create an exciting indoor market of professional pop-up concessions for local charities and community groups is an even bigger idea. These huge buildings with their excellent central locations are perfectly placed to attract new customers back to our town centres en masse. More importantly, this practical interim solution can be implemented immediately. In fact, it already has – at two massive department stores: Debenhams in Wandsworth and Marks & Spencer in Rochdale, both organised by Rainbow Rising.

Whatever the repurposing route, be it for department stores or entire town centres, long-term visions and blue-sky thinking will not be enough to save our high streets. Local businesses and communities desperately need tangible help now to keep going, while they transition to their fascinating future. For all the negative news stories in the media, department stores have endured for the past 200 years. Who knows, with Rainbow Rising’s unique but practical approach, they might reinvent themselves yet again and rejuvenate our high streets as well.

Ben Demash


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