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Waitalot has become a bit of a no go area for me at weekends when queues of fifty or sixty shoppers and broken down tills have become the norm. The company announced some time ago that it had acquired (we buy, big companies "acquire") the shop next door and was going to expand into it.

So, could the builders be on the verge of moving in and starting the fitting out? Taken this morning, this picture shows that the blinds have gone up and with it the sense of anticipation in CE!

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I go into Waitrose 3 or 4 times a week but only for my free coffee - speaking of which . . . . 


Well, I couldn't help but notice that the 'blinds' had gone up following my raising the matter with the manager a week earlier. I pointed out that Waitrose had purchased the lease prior to the Bargain Book Store having an opportunity to bid for it itself. (This is what the staff there told me shortly before it closed.) The store has now been vacant for approx. six months and no work of any kind has started there. Mail piled up behind the door and fly-posters - as per the image - use the window for free advertising. The manager at Waitrose suggested that there may be work going on behind the scenes. (He didn't know very much - he is only the manager after all.) I asked him to find out what was going on. Waitrose may simply be embarrassed by the lack of any tangible development and have decided to screen the void In the shop from the Crouch End public. (Bit of a coincidence that this occurred only a week after I flagged up the matter.)

Given that the premises have been empty for so long I feel a far better option would have been to sublet the shop to the Bargain Bookstore  to carry on as per until Waitrose finally got round to doing something with it. Bargain Books could have continued trading, we Crouch Enders could have continued to use the store - which was very popular and a business success by all accounts - and it would have given the bookstore management time to find alternative premises. Perhaps that was all too logical. The Bookstore staff said they would be hoping to find alternative premises in Crouch End - thus far no sign of anything... perhaps due to the swingeing rents and absurd business rates in the area. 

All in all I would have preferred the Bargain Bookstore to remain and to live with the Waitrose as it is. Having shut the place down, the least Waitrose could do would be the get its act together to start combining the two premises. 

Your thoughts?

Brian Bowles

Cracking idea to have allowed BBs to carry on until work ready to start for the Waitros extension.Crouch End has a great network of charity shops selling second hand but an area like ours should be able to sustain a new book shop. Point about rents well made.

I overheard a Waitrose staff member talking to a customer the other day. It seems that a principle challenge for the store design team is the difference in levels. Internal staits are not welcome in a small store as they take up space

I have spoken to the store manager about the unacceptable queues on Saturdays and Sundays caused by tills not working or closed. He rolled out the ususl management speak but the bottom line is Waitrose would prefer us to give them out (waiting) time rather than invest in staff numbers and kit that can cope with tge lsrge number of customers.

Waitrose is as much of a hard nosed business as the other supermarkets.  The treatment of Bargain Books was the nail in the coffin for me.  I rarely shop at Waitrose anymore

I used to do quite a bit of my shop there but became increasingly frustrated by the lack of choice and lax service.  I complained to customer services about the unacceptably long waiting times particularly as there were staff standing around chatting and they actually closed one of the tills.  I never got an answer. 

I buy the staples by bulk and have them delivered.  Fresh fruit, veg, fish, meat and milk I shop locally for.  Why anyone in Crouch End would buy fresh food (esp fruit and veg) from any supermarket is a mystery to me.  Must be the same people who get excited every time there is a rumour of Wagamama's and similar chains coming here. 

Spot on about fruit, veg and fresh items in Crouch End. the network of shops we have is incredible and the envy of a lot of other high streets. 

Waitrose vegetables have to be the most expensive of any of the supermarket chains. 

My parents live in a market town in the midlands.  It has a population of around 40,000 and no longer has a proper independent  greengrocers, fishmongers or butchers.  The High Street died years ago.  She is amazed by the vibrancy of CE at weekends.  You cannot stop change but I do fear for CE's future.  

One aspect of Waitrose hard edged business ethics is that by providing free newspapers they are gradually driving Paul's newspaper stall (opposite out of business. Most over priced food in CE eg, Broccoli is at least twice the price of other supermarkets and local independents.


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