A thought for a new city-centre, aimed at avoiding large rambling ‘cow-shed’ shops, and the jobsworth sales assistants that go along with them. What if the city gutted some of the increasing number of empty shops, those that have good road access, fitting them out as simple small shells with rails that could “slide-in” complete prefabricated units. Global-mobile intimate retail from the best brands, specialist shops and elusive niche makers, shipped into Birmingham as ‘drop in’ shops in two or three pre-prepared ‘shipping container-sized’ units, and then open for a few weeks only? Perhaps to cater only to customers who had signed-up beforehand, online? And what if, between visits from enticing and elusive retailers, artists could get some of the action — fitting out a single container (using the permanent staff-area container unit, that would slide from the back to the front on rails) that would become the shop window until the next cargo of ultra-fab must-have stuff arrived from Tokyo, Brazil, Finland, Italy, etc…

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Perhaps this is an accepted idea elsewhere, but not reading the shop-fitting journals I wouldn’t know. But I don’t see it happening in Birmingham, where if a new shop is set to open is seems to be preceded by two months of painfully slow on-site progress by butt-crack flashing workmen, rather than just magically appearing one day.

Or is the city going to tolerate more of these (see below) in vital places such as New Street and Corporation Street, lingering as dead spaces, some of them already dead for years…?

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