Scone Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary Garry Gilkeson has grand plans for the town

SCONE Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary Garry Gilkeson is keen to return the town to its former glory.

But, he admits, it will take a few ideas outside the box to achieve that goal.

One of those initiatives centres around Pop-Up shops in Kelly Street.

The Dawson & Dawson Realty agent, who is also on the Scone Town Centre Revitalisation Working Group, believes online shopping and rising overheads have impacted the local economy.

“It’s a real challenge – and there’s no easy answer,” Mr Gilkeson said.

“The chamber is working hard to fill the main street with Pop-Up shops and displays to enhance the area.

“At the moment, there are 11 vacant shops in Kelly Street.

“To me, that’s a concern.

“And, you start worrying about what’s happening in town.

“We’ve already spoken to landlords [of vacant shops] to explain the concept better.

“Rather than have empty premises, we’d like little businesses to take up Pop-Up spots for reduced rents.

“Or, alternatively, set up a hot desk or possibly a boardroom area for meetings.

“We’re certainly making enquiries – and looking into a number of avenues.

“We won’t give up.”

Mr Gilkeson said the idea of Pop-Up shops had been “around for a few months now”.

“With the Scone Horse Festival fast approaching, it would be good to have those vacant shops filled,” he explained.

“That event brings a lot of people to town.

“So, the opportunities [for businesses or community groups] for promotion are endless.

“It shouldn’t affect any landlord either – any arrangement we make is temporary and can be dissolved when they secure a long-term tenant.”

Mr Gilkeson said the Scone Revitalisation Masterplan was very important for the area.

“It aims to create more attractive and vibrant retail destinations with recommendations that include improving landscaping, parking, seating, shade, signage and maps, pedestrian and cycling access, creating public art and slowing traffic through kerb blisters and green spaces at the entrances to towns,” he told the Advocate.

“[Upper Hunter Shire] Council is also doing a similar thing in Aberdeen, Merriwa and Murrurundi.

“Each town’s Action Plan includes dozens of recommendations, some which can be achieved in the short-term (such as tree planting); medium-term (such as heritage story boards) and long-term (such as installing more pedestrian crossings).

“It can only be a good thing.”

If anyone is interested in a Pop-Up shop, contact Garry Gilkeson on 0418 828 782.