My Sunshiny Life

{April 4, 2009}   The High Street Graveyard of Shattered Dreams

Whilst breaking in my fit flops today (a pack of blister plasters later, ouch!)  with a walk to Hyde Park I noticed loads of empty shops, so I decided to conduct a little survey on my way home.  I went into Whiteleys, but that was pre survey so I just noticed Oasis was gone and the expensive shirt shop down the bottom was history too. 

My official survey started outside Whiteleys and ended half a mile down the road at Westbourne Grove church.  In that small stretch of road I noticed 14 empty shops and restaurants.  A mind boggling amount for such a small distance. 

Westbourne Grove

Westbourne Grove

Here are the casualties:

  • Standard Indian Restaurant – maybe this one is just being refurbished, lets hope they do something about the name too!  Hope they don’t call it ‘Pretty Average Indian Restaurant’
  • Creme de la Creme Bakery and Patisserie – complete with mouldy food left in the display cabinet.  This raises the questions, did they just go on holiday and leave the food or has the business gone under and the owners scarpered?
  • Boulangerie, Patisserie, Tea House
  • Abiba Finest European Food – I think this restaurant has changed hands a few times now
  • Natural Cafe – this cafe never stood a chance, too big, bad decor and right opposite Planet Organic who did it much better.  If you’re going to offer something similar to whatever already exists you have to do it ten times better!
  • Urban Therapy – under renovation so I’m not sure if it’s changing ownership or not
  • Scooter World – it was nice to have this shop with scooters parked haphazardly out in front of the store, it added urban personality to the street.  I liked to walk past and imagine myself scootering around London, although I never would because I’d be too chicken on the roads without a steel cage protector!
  • Cocoon – lovely furniture store with big amazing pieces of furniture, pricey but cool
  • Blue Poppy Couture – this shop never seemed open so it’s not surprising it didn’t last!  Appointment only?  Pretentious!
  • Tea Palace – relocating to a central London address, which raises the question about the rent in this area… are the landlords getting greedy and pushing the businesses out?
  • Marc Cain
  • MCN Antiques
  • Carre Copenhagen – lovely jewellery shop with birdcages in the windows

I don’t think this list is the end of the casualties and it will be interesting to conduct this little survey again in 6 months time.  I wonder how the other businesses in the street will cope, as people continue to be more discerning as to where they part with their hard earned cash.

When you think about the plans and aspirations that these fledgling businesses had, it’s really sad to think of their demise.  Hopes, dreams and life savings all gone.  As these stores and restaurants bite the dust it’s my biggest wish that they’re replaced by quality INDEPENDANT retailers.  We don’t need another ‘could be anywhere in the UK’ high street with the same old boring chain stores. 

To keep the independants in business we need to support those that get it right, so I’m going to continue to frequent my local pizzeria, news agent (the clean one, not the one that has the scent of BO and dubious old cooking odors), florist and deli (not the one down the end of my road, that’s a rip).  Power to the consumer and good luck to the retailers who deserve to stay!


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