Watch out Pana, there’s a new shopping destination in Cork city centre.
Christmas street lights were turned on for the first time in the Drawbridge St/Perry St area on Friday night and retailers are looking forward to welcoming shoppers for the festive season.
Aisling Kirwan, owner of Paper Dolls boutique, was one of the driving forces behind the lights installation and says the street has a lot to offer shoppers. In particular, it is an attractive choice for Corkonians who are keen to keep their spending local and independent, with Paper Dolls joined by other retailers like Moderne, Salingers and Samui.
“Within the last two years the street has picked up regarding retail and it mostly independent,” Ms Kirwan said. “They are nearly all local Cork businesses. It is great to see, it all brings people in.”
There are also independents providing hair and beauty options and somewhere to go for a coffee or a pint after a tough day’s shopping.
Any discussion about trade in the city centre is incomplete without reference to the Patrick’s Street car ban, but Ms Kirwan is pragmatic about development and believes she and her fellow traders need to embrace change and work with it.
“At the end of the day we are a city centre, there is a lot happening and there is a lot going to happen in the next few years,” she said. “People are complaining but its a city, you have to put in some structures.”
Which is not to say traders should accept decisions being made for them, in particular, she would like to see independent businesses make themselves heard.
But she finds Cork City Council easy to deal with and said the streetlights would not have gone ahead without their support.
Every bit of feedback I have given the Council has been taken on board,” she said. “I phoned about the Christmas lights and they couldn’t have been more helpful. I explained the situation and two days later the engineers called in.” 11 businesses in the area came together to arrange the lights and now the focus is firmly on finishing the year strongly with a good festive season.
“I think Christmas is going to be good, I think the city will draw people,” Ms Kirwan said. “If you are coming home for Christmas, say if you are abroad, you are going to come into the city centre. I expect the next few weeks to be busy.”