A PIONEERING retail business which has been a huge success in East Lothian has taken over an eyesore building in Galashiels.

whynot? has operated in a former North Berwick supermarket for the past six years, helping over 400 independent crafters, artists, small businesses and community groups rent pop-up spaces.

And it has generated turnover of over £4 million as well support 15 jobs.

Now the business has branched out to take over an empty store in Gala's Channel Street.

The former M&Co store had been empty for almost two years.

Jenny Potter, one of the directors of whynot?, told the Border Telegraph: “Galashiels has a really busy town centre and a bright future.

"The Borders has a huge variety of fabulous artists and makers.

"whynot? in Galashiels will provide a base for these and also provide concessions for community groups and not-for-profit organisations to publicise what they do.

"We are really excited to be part of the Borders community."

As well as giving crafters and small businesses a high street presence, there are wider benefits to the whynot? business model.

Jenny added: "Each and every person who takes space in whynot? has the opportunity to grow their business at a pace that suits them.

"One of our retailers in East Lothian started out five years ago with just a small table for one day a week, gradually building up more space and staying seven days a week.

"Now she’s about to leave us and move into her own retail premises, employing three staff.

"Since we opened we have had almost 20 retailers establish themselves in whynot? where they’ve grown their business to the point of taking on their own premises and becoming employers themselves.

“But that’s not what everyone is looking to do.

"The beauty of whynot? is that it’s so flexible and there are options for people to work at their own pace on a level that suits them. People can take space for only one day if they like or two or three. Some people don’t like the selling part of retail so we have options where we can do that on their behalf.”

Galashiels-based Emma Milner-Smith, who along with her husband Guy, owns The Tartan Penguin.

She has been using whynot? in North Berwick and recommends similar companies to take advantage of the new opening.

Emma said: "We left our full time jobs to establish our craft business two years ago.

"Initially we travelled around lots of fairs and shows that are held across the country but then we discovered whynot? in North Berwick.

"That was a real game changer for us. It gave us a soft start but a firm base to trade from. Our sales have been fantastic and we can’t wait to be part of the new whynot? right on our doorstep in Gala!"

As well as space for makers and artists the new premises will have a separate cafe and in the near future a delicatessen, greengrocer's and bakery.