Isn't it time to rethink and reform the concept of shopping streets?

Sander Bos
We develop concepts for, among other things, shopping streets. This is a big part of what we do. However, sometimes we visit places where people seem to cling to idea of the archetypal shopping street. The idea of a shopping street as a place for leisure, where you can stroll from shop to shop looking for a new outfit, stop for a coffee or snatch up a gift.
But what if this shopping street is home to entrepreneurs whose businesses, with their own roles, target groups, service areas, buying motives and even opening hours, no longer have anything in common, or no longer complement or strengthen each other? Here, shopping is not the fun experience it used to be. Nevertheless, the idea of 'the shopping street' is kept forcibly alive through positionings, branch plans, target group analyses and marketing plans (although we acknowledge the efforts and hard work of entrepreneurs, let that be clear).

Celebrate difference
The Badhuisstraat in Scheveningen is this type of shopping street. Together with the municipality of The Hague, we developed a vision for the future of the street. A vision that embraces diversity of entrepreneurs. After all, the Badhuisstraat has many driven self-employed business owners, including a number of newcomers with future-proof business models. The strength of the street lies in this kind of entrepreneurship. Excellent accessibility, relatively small shops with relatively low rent prices can make this area a fertile breeding ground for new business models.

We fleshed out this idea and the potential implications for the entrepreneurs’ network BIZ and the municipality of The Hague. Our vision on storefronts and the design of the Badhuisstraat also included the physical aspects of the street. We proposed giving business owners the freedom to upgrade the look of their façade and to use 'their' pavement or street according to their needs, for example as parking for vehicles or bicycles, or as a terrace. Anything is possible and the setup can be adapted flexibly, so that it can accommodate the changing needs of the entrepreneurs. In short, we developed a framework that enables each entrepreneur to create a business that can grow and thrive.

Let entrepreneurs do what they do best
What a relief for BIZ! No longer having to maintain a common Facebook page that has such a broad target audience that nobody feels represented. No more events with unclear concepts as a result of too much input by too many parties.
Instead, the entrepreneurs can focus their time and effort on things related to why they became entrepreneurs in the first place. A combination of an every-man-for-himself attitude and working together to create a healthy entrepreneurs’ street.
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