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In praise of -the savoy centre.

THE recession, and changing trends in retail, have left their mark on Glasgow city centre and you can see their impact, too, on places like the Savoy Centre, in Sauchiehall Street.

There are empty units just as there are in the big shopping streets nearby. But I have a soft spot for the centre, which has been around for more than 30 years.

In a way it's became a microcosm of the city and its growing multicultural profile: traders of one description or another come from South Africa, Turkey, Poland, Italian and China, according to one long-standing (Glasgow-born) tenant yesterday. "When I started here eight years ago," he said, "it was full of indigenous people, but it's a heck of a lot more cosmopolitan now."

Wander around the place and you get the impression that, in some senses, it hasn't changed much at all. You can still buy books and DVDs and household stuff and pet food, and get your nails done and your watch repaired and your mobile phone seen to. There are lots of eating places. There's a bakery outlet where I try not to stop more than once a week for a fudge doughnut, my guilty little pleasure. There's even a palmist and clairvoyant. In the doorway of an otherwise empty unit, a man sits behind a desk and dispenses "money sense" advice, which tells its own story.

I don't know anything about the economics of running a stall here, or for that matter in any street or indoor market. I don't know anything about what kind of people make up the Savoy's regular clientele. It is good, though, that Glasgow still has places like the Savoy, which serve a distinct purpose even as the Style Mile continues to strengthen its formidable reputation as a shopaholics' paradise.

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