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Three cheers for the traders of Brixton Road north!

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by Brixton Hatter, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. Brixton Hatter

    Brixton Hatter edge of heaven

    Whilst the big chains continue to move in to Brixton High Street, one little corner of 'Brixton' still has a thriving community of local, independent shops. Traders at the north end of Brixton Road have been serving locals successfully for years and - despite the recession - there's hardly an empty shop or closed business in sight.


    I like shopping there cos the shop owners are helpful and friendly. I want them to have my cash, rather than the chain stores. It feels like a proper old high street. And most of the shops still adhere to half-day closing on a Wednesday - old school!

    You've got Tony's Fruits and Vegatables which (along with the Mace on Rosendale Road) is IMO one of the best fruit/veg shops around. The guys who work in there are always game for a chat and a laugh. Next door but one is Pound City which is run by a couple of cheery ladies and has a great selection of plants, flowers and vegetable plants alongside the cheap tat.


    Blissett's Building Supplies is great for all your DIY and garden stuff, and is also heavily used by tradesmen.

    There's loads of cafes/restaurants, including the Oval Tandoori (scene of the failed coup attempt on Gordon Brown by Geoff Hoon and Pat Hewitt) the Moonstar cafe (which now has outside seating) several latin cafes, Migue's Tapas Bar and the Adulis Eritrean Restaurant.

    There's THREE delis, including the excellent Malinka, Mimi's Deli and De Lieto, which appears to be a sideline from the owners of 'Bespoke Italian Kitchens'.

    Even the two estate agents in this row of 40 shops are local/independent firms. If you conveniently forget about William Hill, there's not a chain store in sight. :)

    Please support them if you can. I kind of think their resilience is down to the fact that there isn't a tesco metro or Sainsbury local in the vicinity. Although the worrying news on another thread is that tesco may well be moving in down the road at the old Russell Hotel pub.
    Gramsci likes this.
  2. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    Blissett's fact:
    When Old Mr Blissett retired he did extensive interviews and the shop went to the family who didn't want to change it into self service, but leave it as it had always been. One of the few places I know where should you need it, they will sell you one 6" nail rather than insisting you buy a whole box. Great place.
  3. quimcunx

    quimcunx Too tall.

    When I used to cycle to work I used to stop off at Tony's fruit and veg.

    Anyway now you've drawn attention to it Tesco will be looking to muscle in. :facepalm: :mad:
  4. Brixton Hatter

    Brixton Hatter edge of heaven

    Thanks Mrs M, I never knew that. I like the fact that pretty much everything is behind the counter, so you're encouraged to strike up conversation. People obviously like the way it is run cos it's always busy.
  5. stevebradley

    stevebradley Well-Known Member

    Well said BH - though sadly I fear they're about to be decimated by not one, but TWO Tesco's opening either side of them - literally 3mins walk from each other.

    There's a new Tescos Metro opening on the edge of Kennington Business Park, with a slightly larger Tesco's opening on the corner of Brixton Rd and Caldwell Street (in the old Russell Hotel). This in addition to the Tesco's that is already opened a short walk away in the old Freemans Building (Clapham Rd). I suspect a few of those local shops you've mentioned won't be there within a year or two as a result.

    That will mean that a 2.5m stretch of road from Brixton Town Centre to Kennington will have SEVEN Tesco stores (incl two large supermarkets) within a 5min walk. If that isn't saturation, I don't know what is. The same distance has only one Sainsburys and a couple of Cost Cutters and Happy Shoppers.

    Sadly whilst we all complain about Tesco's, a lot of people like living near one and the vast majority of people still shop there (if only on occasion). And some small local shops leave themselves as easy targets with high prices and poor goods/services. But there are a lot of excellent local shops all over Lambeth/London that Tesco has in its sightes now - with the famous quote from it's boss that they had a 18% share of the entire grocery (not just supermarket) market, which left them another 82% to get. They are clearly seeking to mop up the business enjoyed by small local grocers, and not just in London.

    On top of the Streatham Hub fiasco, the ice rink debacle, and the council-led attempt 3yrs ago for them to double the size of their Brixton store and demolish Porden Rd, we really do live in the London Borough of Tesco's...... :(
    Gramsci likes this.
  6. Minnie_the_Minx

    Minnie_the_Minx someinenhhanding menbag and me ah bollox

    I remember there used to be a Pie and Mash shop there. There was also a cobblers there for years (along with old grandad style slippers in the window). That only went in the last couple of years. I often wonder how he survived that long as I never saw anyone in there.
  7. Minnie_the_Minx

    Minnie_the_Minx someinenhhanding menbag and me ah bollox

    Steve - can you tell us what The Rest of Noise is to become?
  8. Brixton Hatter

    Brixton Hatter edge of heaven

    I remember the pie and mash shop - the sign was still visible for years, even though it had been painted over.
  9. stevebradley

    stevebradley Well-Known Member

    Not my patch I'm afraid MtM, so unfortunately I'm not as clued up.

    I notice it does have 'Brixton Business Centre' signs in the windows, so wonder if it's being swallowed into the Bonne Marche (would be crazy if it was, as it's a prime retail/leisure site).

    Went past the otehr day when they were ripping everything out of there. The builders filled a large removals-type van with the metal from the air con, interior walls etc, so will have made a handy few quid for themselves. Sad to see it go. There is a real opening for more pre-Academy pubs in the area in my view.
  10. Minnie_the_Minx

    Minnie_the_Minx someinenhhanding menbag and me ah bollox

    What is your patch then? :hmm:

    You must be able to find out, insider knowledge and all that ;)
  11. stevebradley

    stevebradley Well-Known Member

    Vassall ward - north Brixton, east Stockwell, west Camberwell and a slither of what some would call Oval :D

    I do shadow the regeneration portfolio though, so will ask the Brixton Town Centre Manager and report back. Remind me on here in case I forget.
  12. Brixton Hatter

    Brixton Hatter edge of heaven

    I didn't know about the Kennington Business Park Tesco. That's just nuts. It sounds very much like the Starbucks strategy of using corporate muscle to open lots of shops in a small area with the express purpose of putting all the local competition out of business.

    I don't shop in supermarkets any more after starting to find out about 5 years ago about their unethical practices and general fuckwittery. Shopping is actually more fun for me now.....and generally cheaper. IMO people have been hoodwinked by Tesco (and the other supermarkets) into thinking that they're the cheapest, when this is often not the case. I'm working on a piece about this blatant con and I'll post it up here when I've finished the research.
  13. Minnie_the_Minx

    Minnie_the_Minx someinenhhanding menbag and me ah bollox

    Remember to ask the Brixton Town Centre Manager and report back.

    Thank ye kindly

    Anyway, Thatcher forced the pubs to sell off their pubs years ago as the breweries had a monopoly, and I think they were only allowed to keep 2000. Why can't something similar be done about Tesco and Sainsbury's?
  14. miss minnie

    miss minnie Well-Known Member

    I have fond memories of the Happy Shopper while I lived nearer that end of Brixton Road, the guys who ran it were some of the most cheerful shopkeepers you could hope to meet! Always came out of there smiling. :)
  15. Minnie_the_Minx

    Minnie_the_Minx someinenhhanding menbag and me ah bollox

    There's a Happy Shopper in New Park Road. It's right expensive
  16. Brixton Hatter

    Brixton Hatter edge of heaven

    What I like about the Happy Shopper is the old sign from the previous shop is still visible - more old school!


    IIRC the newspapers you can see pinned up in the window are all about the floods in Sri Lanka and encouraging people to support the cause.
  17. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    I think Old Mr Blissett retired sometime before 1982 but my memory is hazy as to when exactly.
  18. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    I miss that parade of shops. I worked in Kennington for over 15 years and always liked the area. Blissett's was always my favourite place to shop in.
  19. stevebradley

    stevebradley Well-Known Member

    The guys who own/run the place are pretty passionate Tamils, and they always have newspapers articles in their windows about Sri Lanka. A lot more when the conflict was going on there - they used to always cut out and display articles about various alleged atrocities etc. They're a very nice bunch and run a good and popular shop.

    The Londis on the corner of Caldwell Street - right next to where one of the Tescos is due to open - is another decent and well run local shop under nice people ('Charlie' and his team).

    Tony's fruit and veg shop is very good, though they do get a mixed bag of stuff in there at times (the last time I went in for Granny Smith's they were all very small and I only got two that weren't bruised/beaten around). But that's the nature of fruit and veg that hasn't been pre-screened !

    The Post Office in that row is closing shortly, and moving into the currently vacant unit next to the Chemist. Whilst worrying to see the free-standing one go, it will result in longer opening hours and expanded services, and at least it's not disappearing entirely !

    The dry cleaners there is a real blast from the past - hasn't had a penny spent on it in decades ! It is reasonably priced though.

    And there's an artists studio in a seemingly empty unit beside the Happy Shopper.

    That whole stretch of shops at the top end of Brixton Rd has been slowly improving over the last 4-5 years - largely through local shops (DiLieto's, the two delhis, the kitchen shop etc). They could probably fend off one Tescos, but being book-ended by two could prove the death knell for the likes of Tony's and the Londis.

    Conversely - the two blocks of shops at the other end of Brixton Rd (betwen Lorn Rd and Robsart St, diagonally opposite The Jaam) is a mess, with a third of units empty and/or up for sale. It's on the edge of a relatively wealthy conservation area, yet no money from there gets spent in those shops as the offering is poor and the area doesn't feel safe at night. I've got the council on board to try to sort that parade out starting in May this year, so fingers crossed it can improve as a local shopping district as well.
  20. Minnie_the_Minx

    Minnie_the_Minx someinenhhanding menbag and me ah bollox

    Steve. Please see my question at 13.
  21. Janh

    Janh signs might be omens

    This is a great post BH, I like the Post Office down there which is efficient and rarely packed. Also there's a relatively new Italian deli just down one of the side streets.
  22. stevebradley

    stevebradley Well-Known Member

    Direct experience of the minutae of Thatcher pre-dates me (bar her disastrous Northern Irish policies), as I only stepped off the boat in Autumn 1991, but you raise a good point.

    i shall endevaour to ask the question and find out.

    BTW - The New Economics Foundation (NEF) in Kennington have done a lot of work on the impact of chain stores like Tescos. In particular one of their fellows - David Boyle - is massively into the issue (he was involved in the Tescopoly book). He is on an interim list to become a peer, and it would be good to have someone like him in the Lords asking the awkward questions, but he's not really a politician so wouldn't be able to work the system to implement change. Plus the laws get chjanged in the Commons anyway.

    I like your idea though, and can think of a way to push it further :D Though sadly, the large supermarkets are pretty vigorous lobbyists, so have a lot of power regardless of who runs the country :(
  23. Minnie_the_Minx

    Minnie_the_Minx someinenhhanding menbag and me ah bollox

    I myself don't understand politics or finance, but it was just a thought.

    There was a downside to all the pubs being sold off however, it seemed to herald the birth of the yuppy pub :hmm: Before that, yuppies were stuck in little dark basement wine bars :D
  24. Minnie_the_Minx

    Minnie_the_Minx someinenhhanding menbag and me ah bollox

    Looks like there's ways round everything though. Found this:

  25. I live right by the Tesco Express at Loughborough Road and admit I do use it a fair bit, but am fussy about what I buy. I only buy organic milk so I get it there and often bread too. But I always try and walk down toward Oval and get my veg from Tony's. The prices are excellent, the produce always pretty good and I often get stuff I wasn't planning on buying. I love Blissett's. Sometimes I invent reasons to go in and listen to the banter. They aren't at patronising toward a girl like me trying to buy stuff to put up one shelf (badly) and are very knowledgable.

    I really hope the Tesco invasion doesn't happen. They may be handy for some stuff, but the Brixton Road branch has the rudest staff around and I always feel resentful spending money there even when at 11.45pm there wasn't anywhere else open.
  26. miss minnie

    miss minnie Well-Known Member

    I only recently noticed that the classic hair salon had closed down. I now kick myself for having never gone in and experienced a 'do' by them. The interior must not have changed in 40 years.
  27. Tricky Skills

    Tricky Skills I demand tea - NOW!

    Yep - agreed. I love / loved that stretch of local traders. Di Lietos was the icing on the cake, so to speak. Worth celebrating.
  28. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    I think that's what I love about them too. Many times I have been in there, told them what I want to do and they suggest how to go about it and the best tools I can use, or even a possible bodge with tools I already have. Also I bought the best rucksack I have ever owned from there. Bright red cotton canvas with felt lined leather straps. Still going strong after 20 years.
  29. stevebradley

    stevebradley Well-Known Member

    I had a chat with someone on your idea this afternoon MtM.

    At first glance the problem is that, whilst there is a lot of concern over the numbers of Tesco's currently out there or being planned, they're nowhere near a monopoly position at the moment. They hold 30% of the grocery market, but from memory their share of the entire convenience sector is just over half of that. Plus, they also operate in the white goods, clothing and electronic sectors as well (the bigger stores) where they ahve a much smaller share again.

    So I doubt any attempts to restrict Tescos would stand up to the slightest legal challenge. Disliking the way a commnercial enterprise operates is one thing. Being able to do somethiung about it is another entirely.

    I will have a chat with David Boyle and NEF to pick their brains on whether they think anything could be done to clip the wings of the big retailers, but I suspect options will be extremely limited.

    As always though, the bottom line rests with people. If enough people stop shopping at Tesco's, they won't be able to have so many stores. It really is that simple.
  30. stevebradley

    stevebradley Well-Known Member

    I suspect you know the rigmarole involved in getting that DiLieto's past Lambeth's planners as well ! :eek:

    That reytail district has lifted its own fortunes without a bean of assistance from the council - and indeed, in the face of some daft decisions by the council (and not just DiLieto's).

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