12.1.10

What will become of the jewel of Glasgow's Style Mile?

I walked by a sad and empty Borders on Buchanan Street recently for the first time since the closing down sale. I had generally avoided that store until now because the crowds and queues were completely bonkers, and the whole thing seemed very sad to me. I loved Borders for its late opening, its amazing selection of magazines, and the Paperchase concession. I also just love that building, and there really needs to be something fantastic there.

I was fantasising with a friend about what kind of retailer should move in there. It's doubtful it will be a bookstore - they don't seem to do that well these days, and its been a sad story for Glasgow book stores ever since that terrific John Smith & Sons on Byres Road became a Starbucks several years ago.

Personally, I don't think Glasgow needs another Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, or H&M outpost. I'd love to see something really different there. Glasgow needs its own Wolf & Badger type store, where local designers, artists, and sellers of unique objects can find a space to delight and surprise us. Wolf & Badger, a London based boutique, describe themselves as: "a unique lifestyle store that provides a platform to showcase the best design talent from the UK and beyond, spanning fashion, accessories, jewellery and homewares". The building that used to house Borders would be amazing to that end - a vast showcase of original furniture, fashion, jewellery, art - a sort of Goodd meets Che Camille meets Brazen, with studio space, a co-op of designers and retailers who all bring something beautiful and unique into the mix.

MBK (of Food-e Glasgow) suggested a food lover's paradise, with a food market on the ground floor, specialising in local produce and specialist ingredients, and cooking supplies, dishes, cookbooks and appliances on the floors above. The former Starbucks on the first floor could become a Kember and Jones type of eatery. That would be another alternative I'd be happy to see.

I think one positive thing the recession has done is to make retailers more creative, or it has driven people to come up with more creative uses for retail space: pop-up stores and temporary art spaces where stores used to be are two examples that immediately come to mind. I'm looking forward to seeing what else pops up in 2010. But mainly, I'm hoping for a revelation in the old Borders space, or a revolution, not a re-run.

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