We’re only a few weeks into 2014 and already it is clear that Dundalk is facing into a tough year on the retail front.
The impending closure of Penneys in the Long Walk Shopping Centre is another huge blow for the town and, in particular, the North End.
From a customer’s point of view, there is still a perfectly good Penneys in the Marshes, while the silver lining is that staff aren’t being let go. However, the closure of the Long Walk store after 20 years leaves a gaping hole in not just the shopping centre but an area of town that has been struggling to survive for far too long.
The problem is being recognised. Last week’s Dundalk Democrat front page told the story of how bad things were. What is being done about it though? Well, very little if truth be told.
Plans to link the Marshes with the town centre never materialised.
Those plans, which would have been known as Cathedral Walk, were given the green light but were simply never built. In truth, the go ahead for this development came at the worst possible time with the country on its knees in the midst of a deep recession.
It would be great to see the council get involved in some way to help make this happen, although I’m pretty sure the plans would need altering as the last thing we need is more retail units when so many throughout the town are lying idle. Clanbrassil Street and, to a lesser extent, Park Street need rejuvenation and fast.
It’s not beyond question that if the Long Walk fail to replace Penneys as an anchor tenant than Tesco could just as easily jump ship when their new superstore is completed.
That would inevitably lead to a knock-on effect for all businesses in the area and could leave Dundalk with an unwanted ghost quarter. That is a worst case scenario, of course.
Another story that caught my eye last week was the publicity Danny Fitzpatrick has received for his bar and restaurant in Rockmarshall. What started out as a negative tale has turned into a positive story for Danny and his business .
The story, covered in last week’s newspaper, came about after Danny announced he was abandoning his plans for his popular Halloween and Christmas displays this year due to criticism received about last year’s events on Trip Advisor and Facebook. His post on the matter attracted almost 4,500 likes on Facebook and saw him receive almost 1,000 messages of support.
On top of that, the bar’s Facebook followers rocketed to over 11,500 – not bad considering the population of this area is estimated at 30,000 – while he also shot up the ratings table on Facebook due to a number of very positive reviews.
Criticism is to be expected in any business, no matter how good, while people tend to only write the worst on the likes of TripAdvisor, while failing to return the same compliments if they receive a positive experience.
Danny should dust himself down, move on and look forward to next year’s events. Given the support he’s received, they’re set to be an even bigger success than last year.