Moving on from Time – Small Business Saturday was bittersweet this year but more important than ever

This Saturday was Small Business Saturday in the UK. This annual non-commercial campaign does good work highlighting the contribution small businesses make to the economy and the character of our town centres. Held on the first Saturday of December, it’s also a key day in the retail calendar. The day many people flock to the shops to do Christmas shopping after the all-important November payday.

This time last year, I was running a small business, Time Lifestyle Boutique. It was a gift shop in Dundee city centre, on the street that connects the civic centre of the City Square to McManus, the city’s current star museum ahead of V&A Dundee opening in 2018. I closed the business for good in March this year after a whirlwind adventure where I chased my dream, achieved what I always wanted to do and learned very valuable and hard lessons. Ultimately the business was not to be sustainable one but it was the start of a new chapter for me where I faced fears and made things happen in life. It’s in this spirit I have continued on my journey.

The reason I bring up Time this week is because I thought about the shop more this weekend than I had for the last few months. Small Business Saturday was the day we would take the most money each year. I did a lot of promotion of the event and wrote and spoke a lot about how important it was. In 2014, I also coordinated a campaign for other city centre businesses to get involved with. We offered discounts and shared information about the other participating businesses in the spirit of collaboration, rather than competition. I hope that this awareness campaign has at least resonated with a few people who include small businesses in their buying habits to this day. It might just save other small businesses from the same fate as my own.

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Is Dundee losing itself in the search for glamour? A local perspective.

I attended a debate on Thursday night hosted by Creative Dundee and the Architecture Fringe. It was held at Dundee Contemporary Arts and was well-attended by architects, students and ‘creatives’. Four panel members were asked to debate the following question, ‘Is Dundee losing itself in the search for glamour?’. The motion fell. Being a Turncoats event, the panel members had to swap sides half way through the debate and I could sense at least two members of the panel were squeamish in the counter-argument. The event had a social media blackout so panel members could be frank, and I think that made things more interesting. Panel members featured two architects, a curator and an arts collective founder.

I think it’s an excellent question and it’s one that we all have to think about. It’s something I have been thinking about a lot in the last four years in particular while we have been seeing monumental changes in the Waterfront area of the City Centre. The city’s skyline has drastically changed and the investment is in the towering realm of billions. I believe the scale of this change and investment will not be seen again for a generation and the direction of the city and the lives of its residents will be steered by today’s developments for decades.

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