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Perth Museum: City centre traders’ verdict on £27m new neighbour

Supporters say the new Perth Museum will boost business for city centre traders. How was their opening weekend?

Sorin Mihai and Roxy Stefan inside Perth restaurant Crido's, next to Perth Museum
Sorin Mihai and Roxy Stefan hope the new Perth Museum will be good for business at Crido's restaurant in the cafe quarter. Image: DC Thomson

Perth Museum bosses say their opening weekend was a triumph, with more than 3,000 visitors through the doors on Saturday alone.

But what about the Perth traders who’ve been promised the new attraction will bring a boost to business?

The £27 million museum is tipped to contribute £25.4m to the local economy over the next 10 years.

And for city centre businesses, the forecast of an additional 167,000 visitors a year is a mouth-watering prospect.

Certainly, the streets around the museum were busy on Saturday, as museum-goers dodged the showers to take in some of the street entertainment on offer.

Street performer making bubbles surrounded by crowds of families outside Perth Museum
The crowds turned out for Perth Museum opening day. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson
Three people from the Gael History group dressed as Jacobites walking past St Johns Kirk and the new Perth Museum with crowds behind them
Gael History entertained and informed museum visitors. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

But Perth city centre was noticeably quieter on Sunday, despite the lure of blue skies and free parking.

A number of shops did open for the day though, along with plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants.

And so The Courier paid them a visit to ask what the opening of Perth Museum had done for them.

Neighbours counting on Perth Museum business boost

Hinterland coffee shop couldn’t be better placed to take advantage of an increase in visitors.

It’s right by the door of the new museum, in the heart of Perth’s cafe quarter.

And while there has been criticism of the decision to include a council-funded cafe inside the attraction, Hinterland owner Adam Lavery is hopeful that museum-goers will take note of the independent businesses outside who are relying on their support.

Interior of Stone cafe inside Perth Museum,
Stone cafe inside Perth Museum. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

“Saturday was a good day for us. I’ve got high hopes,” he said.

“I’ve been in for a look round the displays and I’m focusing on the positives now.

“I just hope people remember the reason for the new museum was to support Perth city centre as a whole,” he added.

“But fingers crossed this is the start of things to come.”

At Crido’s restaurant, a few doors away, manager Roxy Stefan is also optimistic.

View of Perth Museum with cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating areas alongside
Businesses on Perth’s cafe quarter hope the new museum will bring them a boost. Image: DC Thomson.

“Saturday was great, she said.

“Lunch was really busy and we had lots of new people in.

“It’s been a good Sunday too. Hopefully the new museum is going to bring people in like they say.

“We’ve been getting workers from the museum and Culture Perth and Kinross in too.

“It’s nice to see them supporting their neighbours.”

Can new Perth Museum kickstart tourism business?

That sense of optimism was also in the air at Cullach Brewing.

Perth’s only independent taproom, on Princes Street, did about three times its usual trade on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday was shaping up to be a busier one too.

Scott Amery standing behind bar at Cullach Brewing in Perth
Scott Amery at Cullach Brewing in Perth’s Princes Street. Image: Morag Lindsay.

Manager Scott Amery said: “We had a lot of fresh faces in, and the chatter about the new museum was all good.

“We’re pretty hopeful about what it can do, especially for tourism,” he added.

“The typical tourist will maybe spend a night in Perth before going somewhere else. But maybe we’ll start to see them spending two nights if there’s more for them to see and do while they’re here.”

Concorde Music on Scott Street isn’t usually open on Sundays. But Craig Smith, whose family have run the record shop since 1967, thought he’d take a chance on the city centre being busier.

By lunchtime he’d had two people through the door.

One was from Glasgow though, in Perth for an overnight stay, so it’s possible the new museum was having the desired ‘if you build it, they will come’ effect.

Craig Smith behind counter at Concorde music shop, Perth
Craig Smith at Concorde Music. Image: DC Thomson.

“A lot of people are cynical about what a new museum can really do for Perth,” he said.

“But the bottom line is, if you’re in business you have to be hopeful about anything that might bring in that extra footfall.

“Things are tough for everyone at the moment. But we had a few different faces in on the Saturday, so we’ll see.”

Thinking positive and praying for brighter days

Back in Perth’s cafe quarter, the Giddy Goose, directly across from the museum, seated about 400 people on the Saturday.

“That’s a good day,” said supervisor Chloe Douglas.

“It was a really nice atmosphere too – all ages, lots of families, and a mix of drinkers and eaters.

“We did a ‘kids eat free’ promotion to bring new people in, and hopefully they enjoyed it and will come back next time they’re in town.”

People seated at outdoor tables opposite Perth Museum
The outdoor seating in Perth’s cafe quarter, next door to the new museum. Image: DC Thomson.

But while the new Stone cafe inside the new museum looked to be doing a roaring trade all Sunday, it was quieter than expected at Willow’s coffee shop and restaurant.

The hope is that trade will start drifting back onto the street when the novelty wears off inside.

Manager Patricia Buhl said her team were looking ahead to brighter days.

“The museum opening day was pretty much a regular Saturday for us,” she said. “The weather didn’t help, but there were more people outside.

“Hopefully when the weather gets better for sitting outside we’ll start to see the benefits.

The sun’s not getting high enough right now, so the museum is actually blocking out the light. But it’s there and I think we have to think positive.”