This is just a quick one on the state of our High Street.
I walk to work most mornings past a shopfront in Kentish Town that stands out uniquely from the identikit frontages that clog up our shopping streets. The shop is (or more relevantly was) Blustons. Blustons was a clothes shop for “women of a certain age.” I know a little about women’s clothes shops as my mum ran a very successful shop in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. One of the key requirements for clothes shops in particular and other shops in general is to move with the fashions whilst retaining a core customer base. Judging by the window displays, Blustons singularly failed to do this and recently paid the price. The premises are in a prime location on a main thoroughfare into central London from the north and the characterful frontage has tons of potential. The frontage is Grade II listed so hopefully it will be preserved. It survived World War II and the shop even had the shrapnel that almost took it out on proud display.
Here’s a BBC news item on the shop:
I took some shots on the way home which show the shop in its current state.
Well, firstly Blustons has a small place in pop history as the location for this video.
It was also the set for an early Amy Winehouse photo shoot.
Secondly, there was a recent article in the Guardian about the closure of the shop. The shop had been trading for 84 years and looking at the article it was clear that it had come to a natural end. What was interesting was the amount of people that mentioned in the comments column at the bottom of the article that they had walked past the shop but never gone in. Now I know your average Guardian reader may not have found anything in Blustons that would have appealed to them unless they were really going for an uber great great granny chic look.
But that’s not the point. The recession in the last six years has decimated our shopping streets. In relatively affluent London, I know it didn’t hit as hard so it is easy for me to say – hell, I’ve now got two independent coffee roasters within half of a mile of where I live.
I spent an inordinate part of my teen years and beyond hanging around in music and record shops. Record shops in particular were hit hard in the 2000’s. There are more around now, partly as a result of the vinyl resurgence and also due to them adapting and becoming “destinations”. Let’s try and support them and the other small shop keepers rather than Amazon, Apple and the other online outlets who don’t provide the personal service and social experience. Support your local butchers, bakers and grocers as well, rather than the supermarket behemoths. They may have to work hard to become destinations but we can help them by giving them our patronage.
As Smokey sings,
As a footnote, I walked past the shop the other day and saw that they had some paintings in the window that were being auctioned for a local charity.
In the absence of any other future plans for the shop, local charity art gallery isn’t a bad one.