OpinioN8

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I've been a Crouchender for more than 20 years, and I love it there.  Yesterday I was lucky enough to be there in the afternoon and thought I'd do a little Christmas shopping.  It suddenly dawned on me that there is just nothing to buy in Crouch End these days - and in fact, Crouch End was looking decidedly shabby.  Every beautiful independent shop that sadly closes down is being replaced by either a coffee shop or a nail/beauty bar.  We as a community must protect our delightful area from being overrun by these traders as well as high street chains.  If Primrose Hill and Connaught Village can do it, why can't we?  Enough coffee shops already!   Leila Boutique on Tottenham Lane is the latest casualty - fingers crossed it will be replaced by something original and not a coffee shop or nail bar.

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Totally agree, Caroline. I've lived here in Crouch End since 1966 and have seem the shops change from useful (Timothy Whites and Taylor, Bellmans Wools, United Dairies, a fabric shop, Wilson's department store, Contessa lingerie, a school uniform shop and   Freeman, Hardy and Willis shoes etc) to interesting (Ruth Gill, Prospero's Books, Word Play) and now very little apart from food and coffee shops + restaurants and nail bars. Even Muswell Hill does better!

Perhaps we shoud have a system of variable business rates where independent socially useful shops pay little or no rates and mobile phone shops, multiple coffee shops, estate agents etc pay several times what they pay currently.

I'm no fan of nail bars but I am of coffee shops and I'd rather have one, even a 40% owned by Tesco one, instead of the ghastly Clintons. New independents are still opening in Crouch End- Pickled Pepper selling children's oops, Callis selling shoes for men as well as women and a new men's clothing store in Funktionl kitchen's old site. All is not lost here. The two toy shops have upped their game since Word Play left and are better stocked and Ruth Gill is to all intents fans purposes still here under a new name. All is not lost.

However I am astonished that we now have 2 identical refurbished and rebranded EE mobile shops opposite each other. Surely 1 is going to go?
Serve me right for posting via a mobile. Littered with spelling mistakes and weird autocorrect. Sorry.

This is a recurring problem. When a retail business closes down, often because the rent goes up at the end of a lease, the landlord wants his higher rent. A shop that actually sells something has to cover all the costs of being in the shop and then on top buy stock. An estate agent does not need to buy stock, so can afford to pay a higher rent. Coffee bars carry a small perishable stock, much of which is renewed daily. So there is a tendency for shops to stop being shops. 

Business rates are also a bone of contention - they have gone up enormously in recent years - I think Lynne Featherstone is doing something about it - use this "Freeze Business Rates" website as a starting point to write to her. I know one of our local businesses Scarecrow has had a response from her on the subject.

We are still surprisingly chain free and one thing that the coffee shops do bring is increased footfall. People migrate to Crouch End as a meeting destination which is obviously good for shops. Compare daytime Crouch End to other similar areas and it is surprisingly busy.

Have you read the 'paved with gold' study? And some other stuff about local shops

I absolutely agree! Seems to be the rent that hinders every small business to exist and quite frankly I find it unacceptable. Been told the council can't do anything about it, as they probably make more money of all the franchise chains. I say do as much Christmas shopping as you can in the indy shops that still exist and boycott the bigger chains! Gggrrr

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