Letter to the Editor: changing stores in St Andrews is not ‘unsustainable’

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In response to ‘Unsustainable Living’ by Patrick Campbell (6 February 2014)

Sir,

While reading the article “Unsustainable Living” by Patrick Campbell – which claimed that shops and services around town were far too student-oriented – I couldn’t help feeling that he was forgetting a small but significant demographic in St Andrews: the tourists.

We often forget how much of a tourist attraction St Andrews is, but when summer comes around, or even on a brisk but sunny day, the streets are filled with families, couples, tour buses, and groups of golfers. St Andrews definitely caters to those needs adequately. The number of cute bed and breakfasts, inns, and hotels in St.Andrews seems almost ridiculous considering the fact that University students don’t rent them out, at least that I know of – there may, in fact, be an Eloise living in the Russacks.

There are also a number of pubs and restaurants in St Andrews that cater to a mixed demographic. Drouthy Neebors has a senior citizens and children’s menu. The Whey Pat is always filled with locals playing darts. Both the Central and the Criterion are filled with a blend of students, locals, and tourists in an authentic pub atmosphere. Most of the restaurants in St Andrews have family deals and early bird specials, affirming the importance of drawing in a non-student presence.

Only a few specific restaurants actually have student meal deals, and most of them are Indian restaurants. The movie theatre does not have a student ticket price. And while Argos will be missed, you can find a lot of the things it sold at the Hardware Store on South Street, Tescos, and small local shops in town.

In a small town where rent prices are high and businesses only last a short while because of the ever-changing student population, name-brand franchises dominate our streets. The charity shops are on their way out: two closed down before winter break and another one is for lease. It is not the students who own the shops, it is the locals. Fife Council, made up of locals, has the ability to influence the types of stores that are in St Andrews, and these are the ones they have chosen for the streets. The students in St Andrews bring in significant revenue to the local businesses, and the needs of students are often not a far cry from those of the locals. There are still many unique restaurants and pubs, but the economic reality of high real estate prices neces- sitates the proliferation of stores which cater to the wealthiest demographic in town – University students. Far from being unsustainable, the renewal of store selection in St Andrews is a necessary measure for the survival of business in our town.

Yours sincerely,

Samantha Evans

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