PHOTO SHOP: How Flickr made a difference to an empty shop

Sometimes good things come to those who wait.

Worth waiting for has been an informal project between the Walsall Flickr group and Walsall Council.

Faced with an empty Tesco supermarket in the centre of town a debate was started on how to fill it.

A chance comment from a Flickr member Lee Jordan made some time ago came to the fore. He is @reelgonekid on Twitter.

Wouldn’t it be great, he said, some time before if shots of Walsall taken and posted to Flickr were displayed in an empty shop window?

Wouldn’t that be better than having an empty shop?

So, that’s just what we did.

Walsall Council’s regeneration town centre team have Jon Burnett working to improvce the town centre. He came up with the funding and picked up the ball. The landlord was agreeable. Jon helps run @walsalltown on Twitter, by the way.

I helped Jon ask the wider Walsall Flickr group if they’d like to take part and were pleasantly surprised at the response. You can see the original conversation thread here.

More than half  a dozen members submitted more than 30 shots and our print and design team who then pulled together a design with some town centre information.

We added a picture credit and a link back to the photographer’s Flickr stream. That was important.

There’s plans to redevelop the site and Primark and The Co-Operative are lined up to move in some months down the track.

When that happens the vinyl images will be taken down. But until then bright, creative people of Walsall have a chance to celebrate their work and their town.

According to a Local Data Company report there are more than 28,000 empty shops. That’s about 14 per cent of all the 202,000 shops in England, Scotland and Wales.

This isn’t an answer to all any town centre’s problems. It’s just a good thing to do to ask local people to display their work and brighten up empty shops.


A slide show of the Walsall town centre Flickr window by Stuart Williams can be seen here.

Lee Jordan, whose inital idea it was, took a set of pics including this one.

Join the Conversation


  1. An excellent project.
    Might I suggest if the exercise is repeated that QR codes are added.

  2. Cheers, Paul. Good suggestion about QR codes. I’ll pass that onto Jon Burnett and the town centre team.

  3. Kudos for giving credit; so many don’t (even though its usually required as a term under which the images are licenced for reuse).

    I, too, was about to suggest QR Codes; if you use them, please make sure they link to mobile-friendly pages, as most people will be using mobile devices to scan them. For example is mine.

    If you have pictures of, say, historic buildings or public art, which have Wikipedia articles about them, you can use QRpedia codes, which means that the mobile-friendly articles will be easily available in other languages, also.

    1. Good idea, Andy. I’m a bit agnostioc about QR codes but I suppose then only way you can see if they’l;l take off is by trying the technology.

  4. I’ve just started a new company called “smartscan” – We custom design QR Codes to suit your business / Marketing stratedgy.. May i just suggest an idea, why don’t you host a scavenger hunt in Walsall using QR Codes in different independant stores allowing people to scan codes and solve riddles/puzzles about Walsall, and get a prize / money off coupon for taking part.
    If you want more information on what we do, hit or email us

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