The Spice of Life

The Bike Message Challenge isn’t just about encouraging people to get on their bikes – it’s about encouraging everyone to explore what’s on offer in our neighbourhood – and you might just be surprised! Organiser Rhian Davies explains how going around the town signing up businesses for the challenge was a real eye opener. With two weeks still to go on our challenge, why don’t you go out and #SupportDumfries the best way of all – by bike!

bike at the butchers

Mogerley’s: just one of the many wee independent shops that grace Dumfries – if you look

Before helping organise the Bike Message Challenge I had thought there were perhaps at a push a hundred shops in Dumfries town centre. The negative murmurings on facebook and in the local media certainly would make anyone think the place is deserted. This though is far from the truth.

Whilst recruiting venues for the Bike Message Challenge, we visited an astonishing 219 shops and businesses.  And these are all within an area centred on the high street, at most a five minute cycle or ten minute walk apart.

Not only are there a huge number of businesses but also a large variety. We visited art galleries, dentists, record stores, sewing emporiums, phone shops, grocers, travel agents, pharmacies, cafes, florists, music shops, banks, newsagents, charity shops, hairdressers, printers, sports shops, opticians, fashion outlets, bike shops, jewellers, hardware stores, estate agencies, butchers, bakers and . . . no candlestick makers, although I am sure there will be one out there.

A stone’s throw from the town centre are also four museums, two theatres, two cinemas, a library and archive centre, as well as a tempting array of restaurants and pubs.

Of the 219 businesses visited, around 100 were independent retailers. Again a figure far higher than I would have predicted and much greater than most people give Dumfries credit for.

It was these shops that I spent the longest in, either ending up with a purchase, or  having a blether with the shop owners. Yes there are certainly frustrations independent retailers face and these need addressing, but that does not mean we should right off our town centre. In fact these people are investing their lives and livelihoods in the town through their shops and we need to get out there and support them.

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