A FORMER computer shop has been given a new lease of life as part of an initiative designed to ensure Dunbar High Street continues to thrive.

Town Catalyst CIC, backed by East Lothian Council, is providing subsidised premises and running costs for a six-month incubation period. It also assisted with the fit out of the former Lothian Computers shop at 98 High Street, with support from Zero Waste.

The first group to be given the chance to take up residency within the premises, which were empty for more than two years, is The Makery.

Run by local artist Emma Westwater, with the support of her partner Murray Calder, The Makery aims to be a welcoming creative space where the people of Dunbar can access the professional design, materials, machines and processes needed to bring their creative ideas to life.

“We’re delighted to be the first incubee for the Town Catalyst project,” said Emma.

“Having lived and worked in Dunbar for the last eight years it’s exciting to have a High Street presence that provides a focal point for our work and Town Catalyst has made that a reality.

“We look forward to serving the people and businesses of Dunbar and further afield from 98 High Street.”

The Makery sells acrylic and wooden jewellery, personalised cards, personalised handmade gifts, and papercut and typographical art.

It will also offer walk-in laser cutting services. Everything sold in the shop will be designed and made on site.

It is hoped that The Makery will complement existing High Street businesses and attract more people from across East Lothian to Dunbar.

“New retail businesses face tough competition from out of town developments and internet shopping, so they need all the help they can get,’ said Steven Hill, who was previously chairman of the Dunbar Trades’ Association and operates the Dunbar T-Shirt Shop on the High Street.

“The High Street is the heart of any town and the whole of the community benefits when it’s thriving.”

East Lothian Provost John McMillan, the council’s spokesman for tourism and economic development, said: “There really isn’t a downside to this project.

“Not only does it support new businesses to have a prominent presence on the High Street, with a view to moving on to their own business premises, but it has brought a disused shop unit back into use.

“The Makery is a wonderful addition to Dunbar High Street and I hope this incubator project will help them grow and thrive.”

The incubation period is intended to help the new business build a solid foundation for success and get through the difficult start-up process.

After six months it should be established, with a solid client base, and the means to run profitably without support.

Town Catalyst is also seeking forward-thinking landlords with vacant units who would like to support this initiative by providing premises at reduced rent for potential candidates with a view to cultivating a long-term successful tenant. To find out more, go to