A common complaint nowadays is that our high streets are being decimated by the recession, with boarded up gaps.
These gaps, looking like missing teeth, are between every shop that is managing to stay afloat.
At first it was your local butcher, baker and greengrocer unable to compete with the large supermarket chains.
[O]nce they gave up trading the mega-giants of retail moved into open their own “local” version of their ubiquitous brand while offering the same products as that of the displaced retailers.
Inevitably over time most moderately successful high streets in medium sized towns all looked the same as fashion brands copied the supermarkets and swallowed up independent clothing retailers.
With every high street identical with only the order they appeared along the shopping parade one entrepreneur has taken this trend to its logical conclusion – Boxpark.
In Shoreditch in what’s dubbed the world’s first pop-up mall – an Americanism if ever there was one – Boxpark comprises of 60 identical shipping containers over two levels each 2 metres wide by 6 metres deep and all of them painted black, each with identical signage with none displaying the famous logos that clothing brands have spend millions perfecting and promoting. Nike, Puma, Calvin Klein – they all look the same.
The idea taken from Puma City store in Boston and Illy Cafe in New York was conceived by Roger Wade and erected on the site of the defunct Shoreditch High Street Station that has remained empty for 40 years.
Located on the edge of “Silicon Roundabout” which the Government is predicting (and investing) to be London’s hi-tech growth centre competing with Silicon Valley in California, it couldn’t be in a better location.
Roger Wade is boxing clever, he has plans to open another dozen of these container parks offering retailers short economical leases with each unit stamped with Boxpark’s unique style.
Could this approach be the shops of the future? The high street is beginning to look uniformly the same, to paraphrase Henry Ford: Soon you can any colour shop front you like as long as it’s black.