Go Forth Stirling offers two grants to BID businesses to help them transform either their shopfronts or digital communications.
The Shop Front Improvement Scheme aims to revitalise shop exteriors in a bid to improve the local environment and enhance the city centre for businesses, residents and visitors. Meanwhile, the E-Commerce Grant Scheme is designed to improve the city’s virtual high street by helping businesses start trading online, revamp an existing website or give their social media strategy a boost. Business owners can apply for one or both of the match-funded grants which offer up to £500 (Shop Front Scheme) or £1,000 (E-Commerce Scheme) towards eligible projects.
Doreen Affleck, who runs jewellery business AhDors Gold & Gifts in Upper Craigs, used the Shop Front grant to replace the signage and lighting outside her shop. She said: “It was a huge boost to get the grant – we’d been talking about replacing the sign for quite a while and having some funding to put towards the job was the kick we needed. It’s difficult when you have stock to buy and so many other items to spend money on, so the grant is a great incentive.
We’re really pleased to have received it and with the way the front of the shop looks now. Our sign and lights were really old and the bulbs kept going so it was great to replace them with modern LED lights and a long strip light like the other shops on Upper Craigs have. We also replaced the sign above the shop and it all looks much better now.”
Since starting the Shop Front scheme, Go Forth has awarded more than £8,000 to 19 businesses with more projects currently underway. Applications are sought from businesses whose shopfronts need urgent repairs or improvements – for example missing signage letters, chipped paint or fascia.
All businesses located within the BID zone are eligible to apply and the grant covers 50% of the improvement costs with a limit of £500. The BID is also working in partnership with Stirling City Heritage Trust to improve the city’s shopfronts.
SCHT this year launched a Traditional Shopfronts Grant for repairs or improvement works such as hand-painted signage, timber repairs, conservation of traditional details and reinstatement of missing architectural features.
Grants are available for up to 70% of eligible works to a maximum of £2,500 and can be paired with Go Forth’s Shop Front improvement grant. More details about the SCHT grant can be found here – www.stirlingcityheritagetrust.org/projects-grants/traditional-shopfront-grant/ – or by contacting Trust Manager Lindsay Lennie on email@example.com
Ms Lennie said: “Stirling City Heritage Trust is delighted to work in partnership with Go Forth to help identify suitable local shops for grant funding. These grants can help support businesses in Stirling City Centre to improve the appearance of their shopfronts and to undertake much needed repairs.
Retail properties contribute a great deal to the centre of Stirling and the SCHT/ Go Forth partnership is supporting them to have attractive signage and a good standard of repair which makes such a difference to shoppers and visitors.”
Go Forth’s E-commerce Grant Scheme helps businesses with their digital communications and can be used to create or improve a website, introduce new features such as e-commerce or booking systems or to invest in search engine optimisation or a social media overhaul.
It gives Stirling’s shops the chance to showcase their goods and services so they can increase sales both on the high street and online. Match-funded contributions of up to £1,000 are available and all levy paying businesses can apply for funding.
Hilbert Krikken, who runs Chester’s Coffee House in King Street, applied for a grant to launch a new website. He said: “It was extremely useful to have the grant which actively helped us to set up our website. f it had not been for the Go Forth grant, we would not have been able to develop such a high-quality website to help us market our products.
We planned to set up a website anyway but having the extra budget meant we could create a much better one than we would otherwise have done – we really appreciate the opportunity and everything Go Forth do for us.”
Leanne Brown and Jasmine Stenhouse, who run The Book Nook in Upper Craigs, used the grant to revamp their existing website and add an e-commerce platform which meant they could continue to trade by selling books online during the lockdown restrictions.
Leanne said: “We had a very basic website so getting the grant meant we could employ a web designer to improve it and to add the function to sell books online which really helped when we were unable to open up. Having the website means we can post about our books on social media then add a link direct to the web page where people can go to buy them.
Some days when we were closed due to lockdown we would log in and find that ten orders had been placed overnight which had a direct impact on our sales and really kept us going. It’s so good to have the website up and running and while it was always on the To Do list, we probably wouldn’t have been able to do it yet without the grant. It would have been something in the plan for a couple of years down the line so we’re really glad to have been able to do it sooner.”
The grant was also a boost to Jordan Henderson, of House of Henderson Kilts in Friars Street, whose digital project involved installing a stock management system to tie online and store sales together.
He said: “It means that when we sell something either online or in-store it comes off the stock for each sales system which allows for accurate stock management and we know exactly what we have left to sell online or in the shop. It will save us a lot of time in the long run and we were pleased to be allocated the grant for it.
When you’re committing to a large project like this, it’s good to have any financial help especially following the Covid restrictions. We also found Go Forth Stirling were very helpful and made the process of applying easy.”
Jeff Buchan from Jeff Buchan Hair & Beauty invested in the salon’s website. He says: The digital grant has been invaluable to my business as it allowed me to develop my website. Our appointment bookings have increased by 20% and with links to our social media (Instagram and Facebook) we are able to perform virtual consultations well before the client has walked through our front door. This has undoubtedly improved our clients\’ experience.
After the dust has settled from the onslaught of clients we have seen since being able to re-open, we will be introducing an online shop allowing us to recommend products and solutions to our clients\’ hair problems.
Without the grant, I feel I wouldn\’t have reached the audience I have and for that I’m eternally grateful to Go Forth.\”