Sunday, 26 February 2012

Running Warwick as a business

One word...WOW!

This really has got you all talking hasn't it?!

David and Jerry from Hatton & Harding meet the Queen of shops and the catalyst to our bid Mary Portas 

It would seem that there is a lot of love and support for Warwick and rightly so. We have received some brilliant suggestions and offers already, and I plan to put all these together to form our first meeting with the council representative on Tuesday.

This week has been a whirlwind and I'm just trying to take stock of it all. With support from locals, traders, councils, the Mayor and now our local MP Chris White, it really looks like we could have a strong bid. We're spreading the word too. On Saturday I walked around Warwick drumming up interest for the bid. A gorgeous sunny day had naturally bought people to the town. There was a real buzz about the place, the cafes were serving outside and one restaurant, Cafe Catalan, was even busy cleaning up the Patio garden for late afternoon trade. So that's the answer..we'll just buy the sun! 

That's the thing about Warwick. When it rains, people don't come - this was a common theme amongst shop owners too. We can't do much much about the good old British weather though can we?

One thing I witnessed we could change though...

Whilst stood at the bottom of Church Street on my iPhone (a frequent sight) I witnessed a common problem. A group of tourists/visitors to the town were literally looking all around, bemused as to where to go. They found the sign just outside Lanes Jewellers, pointing down towards Jury Street. The sign simply says, 'St. John's Museum' and 'St. Nicholas Park' Um!? No mention of Smith Street then? You know - that amazing street full of great independent shops? 

The response from the tourists/visitors?

"Museum? Nah, we'll just go then!"

Missed opportunity anyone?

I do feel that Warwick really suffers from the lack of a town centre. I know the market is a great town centre, but it's not like Kenilworth or Leamington where it just goes on and on to the next shop and the next street. Warwick is a beautiful town, and walking around it only made me realise this more, as it does everytime I get the chance. But it's so fragmented and lacks direction for new people. Us locals who live/work/play here know where Smith Street is, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't realise that others will not.

If Warwick were a website it would fail. What do I mean by this?
Well take any website you visit. You land on the homepage (usually) and any good website will have strong 'call to actions', meaning those big 'clickable' areas that beg you to follow the traffic or story of the site. If Warwick were a website it would fail on this fundamental issue. When you come to Warwick you park, you get the train, you visit the Castle or the Racecourse. I haven't fully researched this, but according the mountains of feedback there is a distinct lack of 'call to action' in these places. Sure, there are banners up for events, notice boards in places, but to use that sign at the bottom of Church Street as an example - it doesn't really help the shops does it? Of course if you went to St. John's museum you would hopefully find Smith Street, but if you wanted shops and not a museum you would not make this discovery.

Like it or not, people are lazy and have little time. Our town needs to understand that. By our town I mean our streets, signs and information as well as the people in it. People make quick decisions and are easily led by good signage - just like on a website. The Portas Pilots scheme lists running our town as a business. That's what we must do.

Times are changing but Warwick has not. There are many reasons why our town needs to change and this is just the latest I've noticed - and I'm not alone.

Anyway, there's lots to achieve this week. Many thanks to all who have offered their help and support. Warwick has one thing that many towns would be proud of, and that's community spirit.

Please keep commenting on the 'S
o it begins' blog, as this will form the basis of our discussion on Tuesday. And feel free to share this blog on all your social media outputs.

Cheers for now.

Todd @Warwicktweetup & @UnderwoodWines


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