Britain has a housing crisis. Parts of it have a commercial property crisis, too. What we have, in short, is a crisis.
Nonetheless, if you look hard enough, and are willing to think inside the box, as it were, there are still places from which to launch that exciting new retail venture you've always dreamed of. Check this out:
The Red Kiosk Company is a new national retail chain operating out of unused iconic red telephone boxes.
The first two self-contained food and beverage kiosks within the shell of these iconic boxes were launched on New Road, near Pavilion Gardens in Brighton in June 2014.
Fifteen months on, there are now at least 12 of these repurposed phoneboxes trading their wares around the country. Four are in London, and eight more in cities from Plymouth to Preston.
Here's one now. This is barista Jack Hollier, standing outside his new "coffee pod" (yes, really) in Birmingham's Eden Place:
This whole shebang is the brainchild of a pair of Brighton-based businessmen, Steve Beeken and Eddie Ottewell. On the company's website, Ottewell described the phone boxes as an "iconic piece of architecture”, adding: “Our aim is to redefine the usage to suit modern day needs and requirements without compromising their external appearance.”
Or, translated into English – to come up with a new use for these pretty objects now that no one except Colin Farrell ever needs to use a pay phone any more.
As a bonus, 10 per cent of the money the firm makes from leasing out the boxes goes to the associated Thinking Outside the Box Charitable Trust, which wants "to transform lives by empowering people to break cycles of homelessness, dependency and unemployment". Which is nice, I guess, in a transparent-attempt-to-get-good-press kind of a way.
There's potential for quite a lot more of these things. According to this ad posted by commercial estate agents Stiles Harold Williams, the company "has secured 400 iconic Red Telephone boxes direct from BT, to offer to independent and national retailers/coffee operators”.
Rents start at £3,600 a year, so if you fancy a go at launching your own tiny coffee shop, or are the sort of person who can sleep standing up in a small space, get in touch here.