Thursday, 5 September 2013

Support Our Independent Shops

Paul Scully with Gaynor Lamb of the The Conservatory Florist.
Photo thanks to (and courtesy of) the Sutton Guardian.
If there is one thing I (and this blog) have banged on about over the years it is the need to support our local independent shops. If we want a high street with a unique character and not just a monotonous collection of multinational outlets we need to help those independent businesses contributing to that character to survive. It’s not that hard; it mainly just means doing our shopping in them. But it also means supporting them in other ways when we can.

That is why I am delighted that Paul Scully (local Conservative parliamentary candidate) has today launched the local Independent Shop of the Year competition.

From now until the 17th October, people living in Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park can vote for their favourite local independent shop. Whoever receives the most votes will become Sutton, Cheam & Worcester Park’s Independent Shop of the year. By voting in the competition, customers will be taking the opportunity to say thank you to a local retailer that they feel has provided an excellent service to them and their families. They will also stand a chance of winning £100 to spend in the winning shop. To vote, just go to the website

After launching the competition and website, Paul Scully said:
“We have some fantastic independent shops in our local area which we need to use if we are to keep them. It takes hard work to survive on our High Streets against the big names. This competition is a small way of letting our local retailers know how much we appreciate and support them and I hope everyone will spend a couple of minutes going to to vote for their favourite shop”
For more information please see the Sutton Guardian story here.

I’m sure we’re all sad to see the demise of John James Gardening, the Model Road and Rail shop and the Party shop but to name a few over the years. Unless we want to see others go the same way we need to remember our local independent shops before we default to the corporate giants.

According to the competition, the following is a list of our local independent shops (in Central Road and Windsor Road). Please support them. Being independent is of course sometimes a judgement call. I would define it as the person who owns the business works in the shop. The competition organisers have stressed that this is not a closed list and that people can nominate a shop not mentioned here if they feel that it is an independent shop and has been missed out. Email me here at the blog ( to do so and I will pass the suggestions on.

Local independent shops:

Stitch Right
Born Sushi
Ocean Fish Bar
Amor Beauty
Dual Tools Hire & Sales
Prestige Dry Cleaners
Klass Hair Salon
Classic Wok
Gents Barber
More Than Lofts
Stitch Express
Cut and Design
Excelsior Launderette
The Pedicure
Look @ Me
Knightwood Furniture
Chubbys Kebabs
Dawson Arial Service
Central Locksmith
D.G. Coles & Son Ltd.
Preview Mens Wear
Surrey Door Centre
Garners Funeral Service Ltd.
The Rose Spa
Hendys Jewellers
Tarrant's Hardware
The Conservatory Florist
Ross Fruiterers
The Chinese Medicine Plus
Kim's Hair
Acacia Hair and Beauty
PC Fix Centre
Ryan Gate
Worcester Park Mini Market Newsagent
Mr Ink

Broadway Bargains
Happy Garden
Cycle Power Ltd
Discount Motor Spares
Toy Shed Toy Shop
Worcester Spark
The Classic
Megabyte Computers
Household & Toy Warehouse
Pets Place
Shree Ghanapathy Food & Wine
Burkitt Stationers
Cut & Blend Barbers
Redgwell Sewing Machines
Quality Dry Cleaners of Worcester Park
Woodward Bros
Sole 2 Sole
UK Household
R. Woodfall Optometrists
Moonlight Unisex Hair Salon
Worcester Park Wine
Nefis Kebabs

20 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Guest said...

Don't forget the Sunshine Café! Whenever pass the shop front in the afternoons, everyone inside can be seen busily scrubbing every surface - It must be the cleanest eatery in Worcester Park!

Guest said...

Local retail is dead and the council should knock down shabby old retail units and focus on providing green space. For example the three empty shops near the station should be demolished and green space provided. Only great independent shops will survive such as the butchers, conservatory florist etc. The most visited shops are the ones on the high street which have been purpose built with new buildings (such as Waitrose, Pizza Express and Sainsburys) and not trying to make the most of using old retail units. The council needs to be bold and make real changes, not just hope that things magically get better.

Mrs Impleton said...

Why not convert some units to more housing - this has been done in other towns.

Soof said...

Worcester Park needs a ladies dress shop, a boutique!? We used to have one years ago and it was good not to have to always go into town to pick up gifts etc. we certainly don't need another charity shop or estate agent that's for sure.

Paul Scully said...

Soof, you're right that we don't need another charity shop. One of the reasons for the proliferation of these is the 80% rate relief that charity shops attract. Therefore landlords prefer this than leaving a property empty.

Mrs Impleton, Sutton town centre has had office units converted into flats. The Housing Minister has been talking about allowing greater freedom to give planning permission to convert retail premises into housing.

Guest, local retail is suffering but not dead. Central Road is particularly affected. The obvious first rule of competing is that retailers need to make sure that what they offer is what people want to buy. The council can do more in making stop and shop parking easier and cheaper. Waitrose provides car parking but then offers free newspapers to customers spending a certain amount of money which stops them from going to the newsagents nearby. Neither Merton nor Sutton council have the money to buy up private retail property to convert into green spaces. They don't have the power to do so either. The council can do more though. It needs to be more aggressive in marketing Central Road. Ask residents and visitors what they want to see there and go and find the businesses to make it happen. The council is not an estate agent but their role is to act as a hub, shaping the place in which we live.

This competition isn't an answer to any of these questions. It's just a way to highlight the issues and say thanks to those retailers who work hard at great financial risk to keep our shopping areas alive.

guest said...

To be accurate, Waitrose does not provide car parking, but I'm sure the company doesn't mind its customers thinking so. The Stone Place car park is run by LBS, as I'm sure you know.

guest 2 said...

To knock down property it doesn't own, the Council would have to buy the property; then spend further funds demolishing it and even more converting it to 'green' space. That would go down well at a time of economic recession. Look at the fuss some people are making over a mere £25K to make a garden outside the Library.

guest D said...

I applaud your initiative, but let me correct you on one point, the first rule of retailing is as Alan Sugar says, make a profit. And there, the major problem for an independent is the high buy in cost in setting up a traditional retail outlet.

But the council could be innovative, for example they could give a six month rate holiday to new independent retailers, they could have a monthly Sunday market on part of Stone Place car park, similar to the Wimbledon one. As the second rule of retailing is location, i.e. set yourself up where there are other thriving outlets, so there is plenty of foot fall.

Paul Scully said...

Good point. I stand corrected.

Paul Scully said...

Guest D. There's nothing to disagree with in your post Empty shops really drag down neighbouring businesses and yet the council tends to concentrate on initiatives that make a visual difference but offer little help to struggling shops. The council are trying markets in North Cheam outside Victoria House. (I'll be interested to hear what people think of these).

The retailers in Central Road didn't seem overly impressed with the flower beds that have been installed when I spoke to them on Tuesday.

Simon Densley (Consv Activist) said...

These are some good ideas and if I and enough fellow Conservatives manage to become elected to Sutton Council next year we will be pushing for strong business friendly initiatives like this.

Every shopper has a choice and it is up to the Council to work with local businesses to help people want to choose the local shops that give the high street is vibrancy and character.

Nichu said...

I like this, but the £100 prize isn't going to go far at the funeral parlour. I hope to win £100 of sushi instead!

Guest tax payer said...

Thousands have been wasted in the High Street, like the crackpot scheme that was giving Victoria House its own artistic interpretation of dandruff. And on the basis of that 'success', many more thousands are going to be frittered away on attaching a few hundred quid's worth of timber on the side of Iceland - I can't wait!

...Meanwhile our favourite independent trader, who, (in the qualified opinion of the local community) has done more for the local HIgh Street than anyone else... gets a whopping £100. Well, at least it'll be the best spent £100 and probably the only £100 spent with any care.

It's not a' mere £25K to make a garden' - it's yet another £25K,on top of all the other duff wastage, this time aimed at reducing the size of a full to capacity car park! So how exactly will that help to revive the high street and in particular, independent traders?

Oh, and those people making 'the fuss', they'll be the ones left having to pick up the tab and having nowhere to park!

David Cannings said...

Shopping in local independents is a good idea, but the main reason for the problem is high rates and rents which have a disproportionate effect on non-chain stores. Chain stores can more effectively spread the losses from single shops and benefit from economies of scale. The overall effect is that trading is rigged in favour of consolidation and bigger shops thus creating the 'clone high street' phenomenon.

chatul said...

definitely could do with a nice clothes shop on the highstreet, would be very nice and convenient

Stewart Consv Mackay said...

Nefis Kebabs is my favorite. Nfeis Special !!! All the salad, chilli sauce!!! maybe a side of onion rings ....

Stewart Consv Mackay said...

I believe the council should go in for rate cuts for all businesses we need in Sutton and surrounding wards. i.e. manufacturing, fashion, technology ... with the caveat that local people are employed and/or local apprentices taken on.

Stewart Consv Mackay said...

Markets are a fantastic idea we have to make sure that they are easy and cheap for young local entrepreneurs to start up. from small independent bakers to young fashion houses. then maybe discounts on rates to take up shops .... I see a policy developing...

Mr J said...

Don't think I will be voting for Tarrants Hardware charged a family member an unfair £55 to unlock an IPhone. Yes they should have known better but still a rip off is a rip off....

Guest said...

Erm...did they not ask how much it was going to cost BEFORE they agreed for them to do it??!

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