The heart attack of the high street isn't just about the public passing away of HMV, Jessops, Woolworths, KFC and the others who've had to close their stores, the truth is that it's the retailers who passed the best before date, the killer is the context, not the customer, and we have to make sure the victim isn't the high street.
We still buy the same photography, movies, music and random old odds and sods that we did, we still share and shoplift these things, and in greater gazillions than ever before, but now it's via Instagram, Itunes and Amazon. And with respect for the dead, they aren't like for like replacements for our dearly departed high street heroes, they're a vast improvement.
But because a few high profile companies couldn't keep step with changing times leaving a few shareholders out of pocket, that doesn't for a second mean the high street has had it's day, in fact, it may be that it's day is yet to come. Keep the wax off those property developers moustaches for just a moment more, don't turn the old Blockbuster into luxury lifestyle accommodation just yet, there might be an answer around the corner.
Around the country, as you read this, 'dead' spaces on the high street have been opened up and are under the control of local young people, who are hacking the high street, rewiring retail and reimagining what it means to be at the heart of the high street.
They're already organising workshops, performances, exhibitions, markets, dance off's, Zombie Apocalypses, installations, creativity, inspiration and fun. Young people are the store managers, young people are the staff, young people are curating and creating the content in each store, and every store is selling out fast.
Our high streets don't need saving from their own mortality, but they do need protecting from their mortal enemies, Pawnbrokers, Chicken shops and Bookies can't resuscitate the faltering heart of our high streets and their 'death' is not diagnosed through corporate failure. The high street is the beating cardiac muscle providing social glue for our communities, giving us places to come together, share, experience and enjoy our lives together.
When the intricate connective tissues of our communities are weakened the risks of social exclusion are the result, for families and for young people, this is well trodden territory, we know where it leads, and we can't afford to accept to let it continue.
Somewhereto_ Re:store might not be all the answers in a one stop shop, that would take away the fun of perambulating the high street anyway, but in our store lie clues, that can be shared up and down high streets across the land.
So let's not just listen to the 80% of young people who are asking for a voice in the future of high streets, let's hand them the keys.
The high street is dead, long live the high street.Suggest a correction