800px-Oak_park_benchI was looking at the bench outside the village hall on Saturday evening as the local youth gathered, thinking how the faces change but the attitudes remain the same. The mood changes from bored, to sad, to rowdy, to occasionally menacing. Occasional trips to the local stores ensue, where their older siblings are often employed.

Which brought to mind an article by up-market columnist Tyler Brûlé in which he discoursed about the bench outside his shop in Marylebone high street; how it activated the street and created a sense of community.

He wrote: “One of the most valuable lessons we’ve learned since moving into the shopkeeping business last November is the importance of offering people a place to sit. The addition of a simple teak bench in front of our London shop a month ago has revealed a number of interesting facts about human behaviour and modern urban planning. The first is that the sheer number of men and women – both young and old – who take up a place on the bench to rest their feet, take the sun or even devour a sandwich suggests that there’s a shortage of public places to sit down.”

His view was confirmed in another recent article in which a lady complained to her council that the weekly market in her northern town made the benches unusable so she could not eat her sandwich just bought from the local shop.

Street furniture is obviously important as it creates a point of reference for your business. For local retailers, you often have to work with other local traders to influence how it is developed and how it is kept clean and attractive. Creating a good outside ambiance will help your business.

Mr Brûlé recommends putting a bench out front. What do you think?