The importance of shopping locally in Newham
PUBLISHED: 17:04 24 February 2015 | UPDATED: 17:07 24 February 2015
With three shopping centres and the first purpose-built retail park inside the M25, Newham has one of the largest collections of retail chains in east London.
But the incredible growth of international brands and mega malls doesn’t mean the “little guy” should be left out.
As part of its commitment to the community, the Recorder is supporting smaller businesses and encouraging readers to shop local.
Former banker Lisa Kelly, 44, took over a Stratford beauty salon last summer but it hasn’t been a total life of luxury.
Previously The Beauty Salon, the Church Lane parlour reopened as Angels in October, in memory of the late previous owner – a friend of Lisa’s.
Offering a range of hair, beauty and sunbed treatments, the salon is proving popular with both sexes.
“We get quite a lot of men coming in for pedicures, which is nice,”she said.
“A husband and wife came in and had their feet done side by side.”
Lisa said she still hoped to improve some aspects of her business as it develops.
She said: “It’s tough, but we get to know the customers and it becomes a bit of a community hub, which is something the bigger brands chains really don’t offer.”
But retail behemoths aren’t all bad news for smaller shops, according to George Prue, owner of Furnishers World, in Plaistow Road.
“Westfield hasn’t affected us at all – in fact we’ve probably benefitted from it,” he said.
“It brings people to the area so we get more passing trade.”
Dealing in wardrobes, sofas and beds, George insists the British stiff-upper-lip mentality can get in the way when it comes to trying mattresses.
“About eight out of 10 people who come looking for a bed only test the beds by sitting on them,
“We try to encourage people to have a good lie-down – it’s the only way you can get a proper feel for the bed.”
A business owner for 17 years, George has sold beds of all shapes and sizes, with just one exception.
“Someone once asked us for a very large waterbed, but it would have weighed a quarter of a ton, so we’ve stayed clear of them since then.”
Among those pledging their support for the borough’s smaller shops is East Ham MP and Shadow Minister for Employment Stephen Timms.
“We have many independent shops and businesses in Newham,” he said.
“Each makes a unique and valuable contribution to the fabric of the borough and they deserve our support.
“It is sometimes very easy to do shopping online or in supermarkets.
“Let’s not forget the excellent local businesses we have on our doorsteps that we perhaps take for granted.”
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