Creative Stirling’s decision to have a presence in the city centre has always been one made with intent. Being a relevant and connected agency for culture that is built upon place and people has always been at the heart of our mission and values. Especially now, when our High Street and our communities continue to suffer the ravages of perpetual political mishap and global emergency, creativity and enterprise have never been more important for the recovery of our local business community and culture and the arts never more important for the wellbeing of our neighbours and families.
We are going to be featuring representatives of the eclectic myriad of wonderful local retailers and food outlets that we do business with every day and who are the bedrock champions of our small city’s retail community. Small business has never needed to be more inventive, more resilient – more creative. There have been a number of exciting new retailers appear through the wake of the crisis and as part of our ‘Community Connects’ news feature we’re going to be finding out a bit more about them and the stories and characters that are striving to restore and reinvent our city centre spaces to be fit for a changed future.
Ginger Roots on Port Street seemed like a great place to start, as the proprietor Mark Ritchie worked in the creative sector, in music then arts and theatre tech, for 25 years until the pandemic hit and he was sadly made redundant from his job as Head of Production at the Macrobert.
Mark explains; When I left school I did a whole lot of different jobs before I worked in theatre and honestly, it’s not much different from being either a chef or a market trader or a production manager on a show – you’re just working behind the scenes to bring something different and new to peoples experiences. In this instance, its good food.
One of the best things about this is meeting different people – forget if it’s the wee woman who just wants two tatties and a carrot, or the family who regularly do their big shop and with what we’ve gone through there is a sense that everyone has a story to tell.
Opening Ginger Roots has also allowed me to employ lots of creatives from my networks and friends to make sure the shop looks fantastic and I love getting to play great music and the chat with all the other shopkeepers and regular customers – especially now the students are back in town.
People’s habits are changing and so is their understanding of the importance of quality food, of minimising packaging and the need for good local shops. As Mark says – If you walk down Port Street and Upper Craigs you can get everything you need, be it an eye test, dim-sum or a Fender Jazzmaster. The twenty-minute neighbourhood really is a thing here, in fact it might only be ten. It’s like a proper street community, how I remember it used to be when I was a wean and my granny sent me for the messages.
Though now, the produce you can get is a lot more fancy and much bigger variety. I’m getting great quality Scottish produce that you can’t get in any supermarket. We’re using more local suppliers and producers all the time and branching out our grocery lines with things like flake sea salt from the west coast and Spanish meats and olive oil as well as all the apples, bananas and other veg staples – and you can get a wee two-way chat free of charge. Check out Mark’s shop online and on Instagram.