A couple of decades ago I remember having seen lovely signs on the doors of mom-and-pop stores: “I’ll be right back” or “I’ll be back in 5 minutes” and the interpretation of the sign had widely varied. It would be totally unexpected to see such signs on store doors these days – at least in big cities.
Currently, the term “I’ll be right back” gets another meaning in Hungary as the City Administration of Budapest joined forces with local organizations such as the Design Terminal and Bridge Budapest to start a new initiative Rögtön Jövök! (in English: I’ll be right back). The goal of the project is twofold: on the one hand something had to be done about the unfortunate situation of numerous empty shop spaces in the Hungarian capital. As a result of the economic crisis many businesses had to close down and some of them moved to newly built, modern shopping centers thus leaving the city with a lot of abandoned commercial real estates. The other goal of the initiative is to raise awareness among citizens and passers-by about Hungarian success stories of present times and also to foster the ‘I can do it, too’ mentality.
Rögtön Jövök! project successfully combines these two factors and with the help of local authorities, shop windows of currently vacant shop locations in different districts of the city are now decorated with images and short stories of successful, Hungary-based entrepreneurs. The ultimate goal is to inspire locals who might have a good or a great idea and just need a ‘sign’ to start their own businesses, possibly in one of vacant spaces. The other nice perk of the initiative is that it promotes these successful personalities and their businesses and generates additional business for them. Approximately 50 brands and companies have been selected across industries and sectors for the pilot project phase.
An official project office is scheduled to open its doors in the downtown area very soon and it shall be the linchpin by supporting future entrepreneurs in the process of finding the best location suitable to their business concepts. The project already offers an established online database consisting of currently available commercial spaces for rent.
It is needless to say that the cityscape will automatically be upgraded when majority of abandoned shops are filled with life and energy again and that in turn could inspire the next wave of entrepreneurs. Although the rather sad trend of empty commercial spaces in big cities is something that we find globally and it is mainly due to changes in our consumer and shopping behavior. Traditional retail concepts are certainly driven to the edge and it will give rise to new retail and shopping experiences and so fresh ideas are needed everywhere, not just in Budapest.
Besides that the Rögtön Jövök! initiative certainly shares the very spirit of this blog by trying to turn an identified problem into a positive experience, the project and its results will hopefully inspire other Hungarian cities and towns to adapt this concept to their needs and goals. We have already experienced the Hungarian ‘export’ of the romkocsma (in English: ruin pub) spirit, maybe in some years we will look back to the Rögtön Jövök! initiative with its slogan A Te Helyed – A Te Sikered! (in English: Your Space – Your Success) that triggered a number of other trends within and outside of Hungary’s borders.