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    James within The Grumpy Sailor – the new espresso bar built within New Edition Bookshop, 82 High Street, Fremantle, Australia

      • The area should be defined clearly
      • All occupants in this area should be on a central database
      • Professionally coordinated meetings, with agendas and minutes, to be held at least one a month
      • A paid resource to maintain focus

      The world’s retail high streets are economic and social centres of their communities which provide valuable places for society’s growth and development.  Young and old should be able to grow up within the economic and social boundaries set by a local centre.  To do so is a sustainable, centralised and competitive way for communities to organise themselves.

      Within these local centres the heart of the heart is the prime retail area.  If communities do not have a healthy retail core, their local centres and communities will suffer from lack of competitiveness, diversity and opportunity for its people. Therefore, some type of management of the retail core is necessary.  It’s obvious to look to organised shopping centre management as a guide to manage retail cores.  The obvious stand-out is their opportunity for executive control over a place where standards can be enforced.  As standards of place management are met, a stable environment for the testing and development of business can occur.  Without this, innovation and development will be attracted elsewhere, as will the customers, workers and entrepreneurs.

      In order for standard of place management to be set, local centres must coordinate themselves to determine the standards they require.  What is missing is the retailers within the prime retail core, meeting in a professional and coordinated way to execute best practice place management as they see fit for their area.  This is simply achieved and local government should recognise the economic and social benefit to a region by supporting the coming together of retailers so place management standards are lifted.

      This can be done with a paid resource to coordinate meetings, maintain a complete database of persons in the area so invitations to participate can be given at any time, and to act as a spokesperson for the group in dealing with the local government, new entrepreneurs and customers.

      The popular choices for place improvement are better street presentation and area marketing.  The solutions are often obvious but a paid resource to maintain focus is necessary.  Many retail communities will bond to together to pay for this themselves – recognising the value that this places on their businesses.  Local government will often participate in the cost, particularly in the outset as seeding capital.

      Once established, formalised funding mechanisms through the council rates system can be implemented, if supported by the business community.  Once good retail management in a place has begun, it will need to be maintained and developed.  Some funds have annual budgets of over $15million per annum.  These structures, such as business improvement districts, are trusted and sustainable ways for a retail community to maintain competitive focus on the development of their retail core.

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