With the amazing Havelock Walk Open Studios events over last weekend and next, it strikes me that local businesses in Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park are really missing a huge opportunity by not linking-in in some way to the thousands of people who come in from outside of SE23 over those four days.
To me, a joined-up approach would have involved art displays at V22 Studios, which would have drawn many of Havelock Walk’s visitors up Dartmouth Road where they’d encounter Bunka, Stag & Bow, Farr & Wyde, Leaf & Groove, Wild Horses and Crazy Man Crazy as well as our foodie, drinkie, sweetie places. It would have also encouraged people to take a cheap 3 minute hop (how apt!) on one of our frequent trains along to HOP to visit their art gallery, vintage shop and Jumping Bean etc as well as the amazing Grounds & Grapes and others.
On a broader note - Something that works well for our neighbours is the Team Catford group:
@teamcatford are paid consultants, excellent on social media. Lots of in-person outreach too, and they work with local businesses.
As far as I’m aware, this has been funded from the same multi-million-pound central government funding that’s paying for the Catford regeneration.
This kind of consultancy doesn’t come cheap, but we can approximate it by getting more businesses involved in centralised online discussion (hint hint), and by appointing volunteers to lead on logistics. On that note - (and unlike Catford) we have the amazing Forest Hill Society with a track record in just the kind of thing you suggested, and also the Forest Hill Traders Association:
I know how hard the FHSoc work to get things done around the place but they can’t be expected to stay on top of all the local businesses, who, as you say, should speak to each other more.
Okay, I know that Catford have a budget to build the commerce side of their town, but we’re a lot smaller and our aims can easily be achieved by closer networking amongst ourselves. SE23 has many creative and clever people running local businesses and I have no doubt whatsoever that they could easily make things happen without having to really work at it.
I realise that there are many shopkeepers who maybe don’t care very much and won’t want to engage, but there are enough key shopkeepers and other local people to be able to get enough of a focus on this to drive things in the right direction.
From a landlord’s point of view, it would be helpful, both to me and to the town’s prospects, to be steered or advised by a local body who might, for instance, have a register of prospective new businesses who’re looking to set up here; and between us all we could get more of the shops and businesses that the town wants and needs.
Last thing… Finches, yes, the wonderful Finches, please forgive me for not mentioning you in my first post here because your long and dedicated service to Forest Hill is so important to us.
Well, that was the second-to-last thing because I also didn’t name loads of other long-standing and new-ish businesses who are so deserving - but I’m really slow at typing!
I really wanted to organise an event to coincide with Havelock Walk Open Studios, but I just didn’t have enough time to do it quickly & properly after the D Rd Street Party. I will concentrate on doing something for the next Open Studios on D Rd & hopefully others will want to help do the same on Perryvale, London Road & HOP and of course I will be asking @michael if he wants to help
And on this note I had a local customer in at the weekend that wants to meet with FHTA if we want to, to discuss how he can help with joint things - I’m not quite sure what this is exactly yet & am waiting on him emailing me with his idea & all info which I’ll then share with our FHTA Google Group to see if any want to attend a meeting with him to discuss anything further.
I’m all for listening to all ideas regardless of what they are
I have to admit that we’ve not had a FHTA meeting yet this year (personally I was concentrating more on the opening of D Rd & I think the other exec members probably were too) , so this thread has just reminded me that it’s important to get one arranged soon for the benefit of both traders & local shoppers.
Are all shops in Forest Hill linked via the FHTA Pauline? If not who belongs to it and how can others be encouraged to join. Also do they all know about this website? There is such a fountain of knowledge to be passed on if they all know about it.