Retail Ready People plans Leeds and Rochdale pop ups

P1060029A pop up digital photography studio with a twist, and a social space broadcasting gigs, workshops and talks via social media – those are the two pop up shops planned by young volunteers on the Retail Ready People programme after an intensive three-day residential in Bradford.

35 volunteers aged 16-25 from across Leeds and Manchester came together at the Cedar Court Hotel in Bradford to hear from retail and pop up shop experts, brainstorm ideas and develop business plans for two shops which they will open in May 2013. The pop up shops, in shopping centres in Leeds and Rochdale, will be open for one month and will show a possible future for the nation’s high streets. Both are exploring digital technology, social media and new products in an attempt to find a future for the 15% of the UK’s shops which are currently standing empty.

The ideas for the shops were dreamt up during a series of workshops, inspired by hearing from Hotel Chocolat’s Head of Retail Darren Williams, the author of Pop Up Business For Dummies Dan Thompson, and retail expert Peter Suchet. The residential was delivered by staff from vInspired and Retail Trust.

Rochdale’s pop up shop will be a digital photography studio, which the volunteers believe will bring some fun back to Rochdale’s high street. Visitors will be encouraged to dress up, with a range of fancy dress and historic costumes provided, and the photographs will be available as framed prints, T-shirts or on novelty items such as mugs.

In Leeds, the pop up shop will be used to showcase emerging creative talent from the city – with lunchtime gigs, art workshops and talks being filmed and live streamed from the shop. The space itself will be a friendly, informal social hub and will stock merchandise from local artists and musicians.

Retail Ready People is a free 14-week programme for 16 – 25 year olds, which gives them the chance to set up and run a high street shop. During the programme, young people are given a three-day residential training course, two days a week of training workshops tailored to their needs, support from experienced professionals and mentors and all the resources needed to open a pop up shop – including a space on the high street. Retail Ready People is run by vInspired and Retail Trust, with support from the Empty Shops Network. Leeds and Rochdale are the third and fourth locations, after the programme launched in Brighton and Enfield in late 2012.

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