I liked this summary of the UK’s Empty Shops Network from Alice Ross’s piece for GOOD (‘Colonizing England’s Vacant Shops’):
For Dan Thompson, helping to get empty shops back into action has become a full-time job. The founder of the Empty Shops Network, Thompson says that the United Kingdom has seen a surge in pop-up shops, galleries, and community spaces that tap into a wider national mood: “There’s a DIY movement going on with more and more people setting up their own events … you get knitting groups setting up in pubs and cafes, [gardening] groups, people are really engaging with their local community. It’s a huge shift in the national culture.”
More a movement than a formal organization, the Empty Shops Network has a website offering advice on setting up and running projects, while its Facebook page and events pages feature dozens of plays, artists’ markets, exhibitions, and children’s activity centers from across the country. Thompson and other longtime collaborators also set up projects of their own, including inviting 40 charities to colonize an empty carpet warehouse, using their allotted spaces as they wanted—whether to showcase their work, sell goods, fundraise, or recruit volunteers.
With an estimated 12 percent of high-street shops currently vacant, landlords, and estate agents are often happy to see their empty properties in use, while neighboring shops benefit from having more people around. Local councils and even the Government have drafted in Thompson to advise on strategies for using empty spaces.