“ City streets, markets, shopping malls, large retail parks... „
Although I live in the North West of England now, I was born and brought up in Falkirk. I am still a frequent visitor (and shopper) there. When I was growing up and just getting interested in serious shopping, Falkirk was a prett so-so place to shop. It had all the 'reliable' high street' stores and alot of independant local retailers. This was fine, but if you wanted a bit more choice or items that 10 of your mates didn't already own you had to venture further afiel to Glasgow or Edinburgh. That all changed in around 1985 when Falkirk got it's first and main shopping centre - The Howgate Centre. The Howgate Centre meant that as well as many of the stores already established in the town moving to or being part of the centre alot of new stores opened up within the centre. As the howgate filled up with new names, more people visited to go shopping, and so even more stores opened in the town. I could attempt to name all the stores within the centre but there are loads and you'd get bored. All the big 'high' street names are there - Boots, Woolies, M&S, Argos Wallis...the list goes on.... .As well as all the usual stores you would expect to find in any decent shopping centre there's an array of other businesses such as travel agents, banks, jewellers etc. The centre itself is pretty much a standard shopping centre. It's attached to a fairly decent sized multi-storey car park. The main shopping area is all on one level with the lower level containing facilities such as food areas, toilets and baby-changing etc. As well as shops the centre has stalls dotted around these look like old fashioned carts (without the horses). These sell various items such as sweets, aromatherapy products, all sorts really. There are benches and seating areas all over the centre if you want to rest your weary legs. There is a decent choice of refreshment outlets selling everything from a quick coffee to a nice lunch. Also at the back of the centre there is an area called 'in-shops'. This is basically an indoor market. All sorts of things are on sale in this area. There is also an area to buy food in here which, on the whole, is much more reasonable than the food outlets in the main shopping centre. Falkirk also has a second shopping centre - The Callander Centre. This was built in. This centre is much smaller than the Howgate Centre. It has a few bigger name stores such as BHS, TK Maxx and Mark One. The rest tend to be small independant retailers or smaller, less well known chains. Appearance wise it's a much more attractive building than the other centre, but has nowhere near the volume or choice of shops. This centre too is attached to a large multi-storey car park. Moving away from the shopping centres to the High Street itself. Most of the major shops that can't be found in any of the 2 shopping centres are found on the High Street. Virgin, HMV and Index to name a few. There are also alot of other independant retailers mixed in with the larger stores. The high street is one long pedestrianised area. The 2 shopping centres mentioned earlier are both accesible from the high street and are about 2 minutes walk from each other. The streets surrounding the High street have a good choice of smaller specialised shops, pubs restaurants and cafe's. Falkirk also has an extensive retail park. This retail park has been extended to double it's original size in the last couple of years. The retail park contains similar to other retail parks all over the country. It has major electrical retailers, large DIY stores and a some furniture/household stores. The new part of the park also has a multi-plex cinema and a fast-food outlet (for my sins i can't remember if it's McD's or BK). There is also a large Tesco superstore, which is open 24 hours. Whilst this retail park is much like others up and down the country, as I said. The thing that dif fers is that these areas are usually situated outside of town. The one in falkirk is a 5 minute walk from the High Street and main shopping area which means that once you park up you can walk to anywhere else you need to go to...no getting in and out the car. I mentioned that there is a Tesco superstore on the retail park. Falkirk also has 2 other superstores. Another Tesco which is in the town centre itself, smaller than the one on the retail park, but pretty well stocked. There is also an Asda superstore more or less in the town centre. Whilst the superstores that are in the town are good, I feel that a bit more choice and competition would be better. There is also a market in Falkirk this is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It is about 15 mins walk or 3 mins bus journey from the town centre. You can find just about anything on the market although there are usually alot more stalls on a saturday than on a Wednesday. If you are coming to Falkirk from out of town, the public transport is very good. There are 2 rail stations, one less than 5 minutes walk from the main shopping areas. The bus service is also varied and frequent. If you are driving then the main parking is in the 2 multi storey carparks I mentioned earlier. There are other car parks dotted around the town which tend to be slightle cheaper, but alot busier. The charges in the multi stories are about the same as they are in most other towns. I've found personally that even on the busiest of Saturdays (and Saturdays can be horrendously busy!) you can usually get a parking space without too much fuss. All in all, Falkirk is a very clean, well looked after town. Ther's a great choice of shops with a town it's size with something to suit everyone. All the shopping areas are conveniently laid out close together. I would recommend a visit to anyone who happens to be in the area.