Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Trade Critical

It has been disappointing to read the negative reaction to this year's Christmas Late Night. From what I saw there were plenty of people enjoying themselves, so I trust and hope that those who felt disappointed by the evening's offerings are in the vocal minority.

The evening did succeed, at least, in bringing larger crowds into Worcester Park - the rides and stalls were, after all, merely a sideshow to the 'main event' which was to encourage more people to shop locally and support their local traders in these troubled economic times.

Yet whilst such events can bring the people to Worcester Park, I am left wondering if our local traders have been doing enough to help themselves.


Worcester Park is, of course, no Oxford Street. Nor is it even on a par with other larger local shopping towns, but that is no reason why our local traders cannot grab a small slice of the festive spending boom.

Whatever you may have thought of the rides and stalls last Friday night, did the local traders make any impact on you? If they were doing anything to drum up some business it certainly passed me by.

Perhaps there were exceptions, but from what I observed the local traders failed spectacularly to take advantage of the crowds and the attention to promote themselves and bring in some more trade.

Ironically in these commercial times, it was the charity shops who did the best - with tables outside their shops or raffles/promotions inside they tapped into the sense of occasion.

From our local traders, however, there was nothing and instead of being at the heart of the event they reduced themselves to being a mere backdrop to everything else that was going on. With a captive audience, a little creativity and imagination would have paid dividends, but where were the incentives for us to shop locally? Where were the 'struggling' local restaurateurs drumming up some much-needed extra trade?

Those who have criticised last Friday's event are entitled to their valid opinions. If the event is to succeed in future, however, it needs to be the product of more than one person's hard work. To succeed and meet its real purpose it needs the traders of Worcester Park to buy into it - to engage with the evening and do more than simply adjust their opening hours, to seize the opportunity and do a little more to help themselves.

9 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Amylena said...

The problem was too many rides which just swamped the high street and meant that a lot of people just didn't bother venturing into the shops as you were so fed up from having to get round the damn rides!

Next year we may feel differently, our little girl will probably want to go on a ride, but I think they need to be in a safer area and not on the pavement, if a kid were to come spinning out of a train or something, god knows what would happen (okay, maybe a bit worse-case scenario but still!)

Maybe it's because they're all specialist shops that you go into when you need a particular item which is why the charity shops did well, they're full of all sorts! It's great having all these local shops, I do love it, much nicer than where I used to live (Bromley) and I would like to see a return of this evening, but defnitely NOT in it's current guise. As the other half put it, less Carnival, MORE Christmas!!

Just my opinion of course but people did agree with me last time..... ; )

Roy said...

I think in terms of range of shops, Worcester Park does well, and is on a par with places like Surbiton.

Rick said...

I’m surprised to read all this negativity and criticism, which from my perspective is largely unwarranted. At its heart, presumably the evening was envisaged as simply one of entertainment for all the local children. If that indeed was the objective, from what I could see, it was a huge success. It’s a shame WP’s younger residents aren’t able to add their younger thoughts and comments here, which I suspect would have offered a very different, rather warmer outlook on the evening. Whereas I saw it as well attended, others have called it crowded and difficult to move around, so they went home. Successful public events inevitably are. Like most things in life, it’s up to you to choose how much or how little you wish to enjoy and embrace it.

Clearly at least some adult residents expected something else, but I’m still not sure what that something else was. What exactly does 'more festive' mean? Some have mentioned a lack of carol singers. Ok, so perhaps they would like to volunteer to fill this void themselves at next year’s event? I can’t quite believe that someone took a pushchair along and commented that (to their apparent surprise), they found it difficult to negotiate it along the high street, as it was full of stalls and people. It’s difficult enough simply walking past some areas at the best of times (e.g. Ross Fruiterers), so what exactly did they expect? A cordoned off lane for pushchairs and prams? We can all think up lots of ideas that would have made it better, but I suspect that the vast majority would be impractical, e.g. simply stopping the traffic or seizing and utilising private land for the rides and merry-go-round.

Clearly organising this kind of event doesn’t just take a quick phone call or two. A great deal of effort obviously went into it and the traders/organisers did a fantastic job of squeezing so much into a very limited space, for just a few hours, for us all to enjoy. For this, I think that the rest of us, who, let’s remember, did absolutely nothing towards it, except turn up on the evening to enjoy it, should show a little more appreciation for their efforts. No doubt, Worcester Park Traders’ Association would love to hear from volunteers, who feel strongly that there was something ‘festive’ lacking and that they can add that something towards future events. However, I’ve usually found in life that those who are most willing to criticise, somehow never feel strongly enough to actually contribute. Anyway, Happy Christmas!

James said...

I agree that there were too many rides taking up Worcester Park; i didnt get a chance to go in any shops. Although i am aware that Worcester Park isn't a big town like Kingston/Epsom etc, the choice of shops isn't that great IMO. I would love for a clothes shop eg. Next, TopShop or something along those lines to appear in the hope that would bring alot more people to Worcester Park.

Andrew H said...

I would have thought 'more festive' was pretty self explanatory. The night was branded as 'WP Traders Association Christmas Late Night'. If it was branded, instead, as 'Non-specific fairground event, scattered along the High street' I may have been expecting what i saw. I don't feel it satisfied the premise of being either Christmassy, or in aid of the Traders, as most of the shops weren't really participating.

And i don't think its ok to say that i should have been expecting to not be able to get a pushchair through the high street that night. Its surely a health and safety, and an accessibility issue if, at one point along the route one has to either come within striking distance of a moving carousel, or go out into the road and dodge the rush hour traffic, to get past. What about disabled people? Are they not welcome either? Or should they too have to accept the 'inevitable' impossibility of getting around?

Im not bashing the event as a whole, i was trying to be constructive. Criticism is perfectly legitimate even when it is negative. I gave my thanks for the time and effort spent by the people of Worcester Park in organising the event, which i feel is a good thing for us to have.

And i dont think its fair to say that i cant have a negative opinion unless im willing to take up the role of a carol singer at next years event either! I came, i spent my money and supported the event. Now im telling you i was disappointed by it, thats all.

Now, lets get on with the more pressing business of getting over to the Hamptons and sledging down those mothertrucking hills!

Happy Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, you learned how to be sarcastic.

Park Lover said...

Please please can those who DID enjoy the evening post something here to redress the balance? I think it's a shame that everyone is criticising a little community event in this way. If you'd paid for entry then fair enough to criticise, but for a free event I enjoyed it and thought it was a welcome attraction for Worcester Park.

So please can those who had some good harmless Christmas fun please add their comments on this blog too?

Scrooge said...

I agree with Andrew. I too was very disappointed. I wanted much more than just something for nothing.

To make matters worse, there were children everywhere, enjoying the evening. Next year, I’m going to go around ramming them all with a pushchair. That should bring tears to their eyes.

Bah Humbug!

Rick said...

Park Lover: Quite right! Despite the best efforts of a few bar humbugs to convince the rest of us otherwise, it was a very pleasant evening, enjoyed by very many residents. Clearly all the local children especially loved it and for everyone, it was an enjoyable occasion, in the run up to Christmas. It remains an enigma, as to why those aforementioned few, do their utmost to try to convince the local community otherwise and take the ‘pizzazz’ out of our traders, who went to the considerable trouble and expense of organising it.

If these few critics genuinely feel so intensely negative towards this well-established, well-supported, annual event, the simple answer is not to broadcast their own lack of Christmas and community spirit, but for them to stay at home, avoid it entirely and let those who want to, enjoy it. (The suggestion ‘stay at home, avoid it entirely’ is obviously a sanitised one). As time has gone on, the habitually self-centred, negative comments appearing here, suggest to me that it is not the event, nor its organisers, but those unhappy, unrepresentative few, who have real, problematic issues…

Seasons greetings everyone, particularly our local traders, who do much to continue to keep the heart and soul of KT4 alive, in uncertain times. I hope a little satirical humour has helped keep local festive spirits topped up, at the expense of those who slate our community. [If our Christmastime in KT4 ain’t festive enough for ’em, why don’t they go, live in Lapland?] Finally, thanks to Mr. WP, our tireless, resident blogger, who has put KT4 on the map of cyberspace.

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