Shop Local: Survey reveals more than 80pc of independents in Harlesden and Willesden need your support over Christmas
PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 09:31 17 November 2020
More than 80 per cent of independent businesses in Willesden and Harlesden are struggling and need your support over Christmas.
The Brent and Kilburn Times hit the streets of Willesden Green and Harlesden to carry out a survey of independent firms in a campaign to get people shopping locally.
Talking to 17 businesses over two days - 12 in Willesden and five in Harlesden - there was a mix of anxiety, with some owners optimistic things could change.
Every organisation spoken to welcomed the cancellation of business rates, and all but one had received a £10,000 grant from the government for the first three months of lockdown in March.
The owner of Happy Value discount store in the High Road said as business had been so slow since reopening in July, he has ordered no Christmas stock.
Christian bookshop manager Yinka Adebanjo said there has been fewer customers in Glorious Beginnings since the outbreak of coronavirus.
The store, which sells books, DVDs, cards, magnets, bibles and other “bits and pieces”, has been operating in Willesden High Road for 15 years. “Some people have been affected by losses so it’s tough for them to come out and shop. This is a specialised shop where people can find solace and comfort,” said Yinka.
Although the store has an internet presence, she said they “sell more in the shop”.
“We are here, we are physically present in the community,” she added, encouraging people to come in for a one-to-one chat.
As London was put into a Tier 2 lockdown, three shop owners said they might have to close - Ace of Fades barber in Willesden and both Mona’s Beauty & Hair Salon and Naina’s Beauty Salon in Harlesden.
As Ace of Fades barber opened in January, it was not eligible for a government grant. The owner, who did not wish to be named, said he had to “start from zero” with customers dropping by 40pc.
Judith Macarenhas was covering for Mona owner Mona Saleem, who was in quarantine when reporters visited.
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“People are nervous to come in,” she said. “Her loyal customers come in. She used to get a lot of walk-ins but that has stopped.”
Mona keeps an online presence with an Instagram account. “It’s very, very tough for her. Alma’s Coffee Shop has gone because of this Covid. Everything is uncertain.”
Reaidi Unisex Hair Salon has operated in the High Road in Willesden since 1993. Hamid Reaidi, owner and sole member of staff, had to let two employees go because of the decline in business.
Hamid said although business has been quiet, he is keen on trying to save the business rather than make money, and wanted to let people know he hopes to see his customers again in the future and is doing his best to keep the business going.
“Thirty years ago there were only three salons on the High Road, now there are at least 16,” Hamid said. “A men’s haircut used to be £7, now we are in 2020 and barbers charge £6. Competition is not by the job, it’s by the price.”
He added: “As long as customers stay safe, that is the most important thing. I’m doing my bit to keep them safe and I hope to see them again in the future.”
Brian McConnell, owner of Dyetts locksmith, said he is trading at around 40pc of what he would have been at around this time last year, but a grant from the government helped him to pay his rent and cover bills needed to sustain the business.
Dyett’s has been in Willesden Green since 1954, and Brian said despite a decrease in turnover, there will always be a market for his business which is “a service not a luxury”.
Also optimistic about the future is Malcolm and Sons butcher in Willesden High Road who have a “loyal customer base”.
In the store was grandfather Godfrey Malcolm, daughter-in-law Angela Malcolm and grandsons Kevin, Ricardo and Orlando Malcolm.
They own the freehold, which helped when business dropped by 25pc.
“Lockdown was a struggle,” said Angela. “People are scared, it was a really worrying time. People didn’t have any money. It’s picked up a bit but we might be going back now because Covid is high again. People are spending wisely now.”
As part of the Brent & Kilburn Times’ Shop Local campaign, we’ll be highlighting the indispensable work of our independent traders. If you want to highlight a local business or tell us how things have been for you - get in touch at email@example.com.
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