Cornershop revisionism – philosophy refreshed…

The Pop-up Shop has been getting a lot of press recently.

Did it ever go away? Is a revision to enterprise philosophy under way? Asset management, both in the public and private sector is in flux. With revisionist thinking on collaboration and about public space utility and development?

We think there is this paradigm shift, which can energise the social finance market. It will temper developments in the public space. This affects political mission, private capital movements and community outcome.

We offer as evidence the three reports/ideas formulated by a diversity of organisations below. As crisp in their thinking as they are diverse. They are telling onlookers to change, at an opportune moment for our sector.

The Pop-Up Shop:

See more modern retailing here...
Hogarth imagines the pop-up shop?

Reading mainstream articles about this newly energised movement, we enjoyed revisiting the web site of . We see it as a metaphor for a new retailing in the UK.

We are a world away from the ’empty space’ temporary retail proposition of old.

Gone are bare spaces, filled with less than high quality merchandise on a seasonal pressure sale basis. In comes a range of artisan producers, innovatory publishers and craft manufacturers. All intent on capitalising on short term, premium retail spaces. It should stir the imagination?

The Appear Here concept achieves a number of aims for the burgeoning retailer. Firstly, you can use the site to scope spaces across the UK, and will be able to view more in the future. You can also see, upfront, the cost of occupying the space over your chosen period.

If you are a community enterprise just at the planning stage this is important. Not being retail property specialists, but with a passion for your community manufactury, then knowing what the costs are likely to be, with support of the Appear Here team, could be a deal clincher for your project.

We haven’t fully explored the booking conditions from the site yet, and cannot see other start-up costs like majority deposits that may be needed, but overall the presentation makes a telling offer for the 21st Century.   internetIconMini  Check out Appear Here today.

We also liked and applaud The Plunkett Fondation’s attempts to vivify the community shop. They have recently published a new report Community Shops 2014 – A Better Form of Business.

Better shops, better communities...
Better shops, better communities…

The Foundation’s main focus is on rural development. As with the initiative above, retailing and the opportunities it offers, are good in inner-city areas too.

These include the principles of stock management, employment, volunteering, managing cash-flow and more.

The mixture of skills and commitment adds human capital, not only to the shop, but also the community if done right.

Icon for Adobe PDF  Download a copy of the Plunkett Foundation Report for 2014 here…

What can be gleaned for the Plunkett report is how a local shop can be a driver for community cohesion, a broad, beneficial identity and, because it is community owned, a wider sense of community ownership of place is also generated. Who cannot be proud of the area the shop they own exists within?

 Socially Productive Places:

Yesterday The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA), in collaboration with British Land, published a new report about an emergent model to add value to public spaces by utilising a new admixture of co-operation and skills shared amongst local authority planners, developers, community groups and politicians.

New ideas in regeneration...
New ideas in regeneration…

We were excited by the report, which contains recommendations for how private developers and public sector players can innovate and collaborate in new ways to get the maximum value from public spaces, whilst at the same time adding value to built assets.

At the heart of the report is a lack of fear about profitability. But with a sense of urgency and innovation about how the public domain renovates and rebuilds from now on.

The report tells us what should not done. As well as illustrating the new skills needed by key players in the development sector. It is a cogent and telling argument.

Icon for Adobe PDF   Download a full copy of the research paper here…

It’s a timely report and you can read a short review, and find links to the conference that inspired the research, on conversationsEAST, the East of England Fellowship journal supporting the work of the RSA.

Mass Collaboration:

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), is a centre-left think tank. It recently published a paper called Mass Collaboration.

Within the context of this brief article, the IPPR piece binds together some of the ideas expressed above. Taking a meta-narrative view of policy and practice.

To see how to achieve change in the public arena. Moving to mass engagement within the socio-political structures that frame our society.

Working together in a new way...
Working together in a new way…

The paper, authored by Matthew Pike, a serial social entrepreneur. He has connections to Unltd, Big Society Capital and the Social Investment Business.

Matthew is the founder of, a free reporting system for public services. Always worth checking out!

Icon for Adobe PDF   Download a copy of the report here…

The Pike thesis for change, that will will channel mass collaboration, is based upon five key principles. We give them below.

  1. “Invest in shared institutions that build social capital and engender supportive working relationships across sectors and hierarchies, such as teams of supporters around individuals, community anchor organisations, children’s centres, extended schools and more. Above all, invest in new ‘backbone organisations’ that can mobilise and organise whole-system change across localities.
  2. Understand what help people need in order to help themselves and discover the existing strengths within people and communities, through an immersive programme of listening and learning.
  3. Harness the new power of ‘big social data’ to turn public funding into a real-time process of action learning, understanding as much as possible about activities, outcomes and costs in an area to help design new systems that give people the help they need in a much smarter way.
  4. Provide funding, investment and support to test, grow and scale up what works better in a local context and cut what isn’t needed or is less effective.
  5. Work progressively to use new insight and evidence to help redesign the wider systems, rules and regulations that hamper local achievement”.

The five could apply to the social finance sector, and the players operating in it. Innovation, change, consultation, system and process review, engagement with communities of interest. All are all defining characteristics of the Social Finance sector.

The thematic glue to them, for us in the sector, is money. It’s accrual, its management and its dispensation. The Pikeian motif can layer upon the RSA paper, as well as across the innovatory approach of The Plunkett Foundation. In essence, we should talk to each other and ‘do things different’.

A heady time to be in the vanguard of a new movement?

Ethical business with a social dimension...
Ethical business with a social dimension…