Senator Feargal Quinn has given a shopping list to Mountmellick traders, with tips on reviving town centre trading.
The business mentor toured the town and spoke to busineses last July at the request of Senator John Whelan.
“Town centres can offer a different and personalised experience for customers, with diverse shops like gastropubs, markets and workshops,” Sen Quinn has told Mountmellick Business Association (MBA), who formed recently at his suggestion.
”There must be more emphasis on superior customer service which some businesses lost sight of during the boom,” he said, adding that the time was right to open up a business or expand.
He suggests bringing property agents from Dublin on a tour of Mountmellick, to “open their eyes to the retail possibilities that are lying here untapped”.
“This is a fantastic shopping town with lovely Georgian architecture,” he said, praising efforts to have Mountmellick designated a heritage town.
He encouraged promotion of history and amenities, and praised the Christmas Fair, Summerfest and tapestry exhibition.
“Initiatives like this create a great buzz in the town and that is exactly what businesses need,” he said.
He also urged traders to keep their shopfronts freshly painted, put out seating and flowers, offer free wifi, promote the 15 minutes free parking, and increase town centre signage.
PRO of the business association is Cllr Lisa Delaney.
“We have set ourselves aims over the next three years, signage is part of that, we will try to get a half hour free parking in the town centre. It is important to push the Slieve Bloom cycle trail and the Garryhinch water project. 75,000 people visit the Ballyhoura bike trail every year,” she reported to the town council meeting.
Town Manager Ian McCormack replied that Laois County Council has applied for money for the bike trail. “That’s top of our list,” he said.
Cllr Bobby Delaney was disappointed at the suggestions.
“I thought we were going to hear new ideas from the traders, a lot of them wouldn’t come out and give the Tidy Towns a hand. My biggest fear is walking up and seeing another shop closed. The biggest enemy we have is online trading,” he said.
Cllr Lisa Delaney replied that traders are also going to put out flowers, seating, canopies and signs.
“They can’t do it overnight, they need time to adapt their businesses,” she said, inviting councillors to the MBA’s October 16 meeting.