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months but already feels at home, comparing favourably the friendly village atmosphere of Church Street with his old territory of Highbury Corner. He says he knows his customers far better here than those in his previous pub as they are not just passers-by.
Pa Flanagan of the popular used goods shop around the corner in Marion Street does not feel secure. His lease terminates shortly and he feels under pressure to quit. He believes that the site is earmarked for yet another development, possibly flats. A large good-looking tree in his yard may come to his aid. He has been told by the Council that it cannot be cut down and will restrict the plans of any property developer.
Other parts of London have streets that focus on eating and shopping. Is Church Street any different? Teng Tung runs the Barracuda jazz restaurant. He previously owned similar restaurants in Chelsea and Fulham. He says the difference between over there and here is mainly money and attitude. In west London, people spent a lot more on fancier drinks, such as cocktails, and were more showy. They appreciated the music less treating it as a background to drinking and eating.
Maria Abraham, originally from Finland, runs the award-winning Helsinki fashion store on Church Street, together with her assistant Julie. She recalls that when she opened the shop four years ago some thought she was a posh foreign bird pushing out a local hairdresser. Indeed, who can forget Laurie of Modern Man, barber and raconteur of bizarre stories? However, he left of his own accord.
Maria is not sentimental about the changes in the street. As a small independent business, she believes that those who deserve to survive will survive. Its important to listen to your customers and make the changes they want. She says its dangerous to think that there is a planned, concerted campaign to get rid of people like her. If anyone, such as Fresh and Wild, can provide good service and bring people into the street, particularly during the day, then businesses, old and new, will benefit. It doesnt matter if they are part of a chain.
She doesnt know of any other street in London, where people, often competitors, work together so well. Her customers are different from those in Islington who tend to be more ostentatious. Stoke Newington is definitely not flash. People tend to buy quality and dont minding spending a little extra to get it. Maria believes that the people who live around here work bloody hard to earn their money and she points to the queues at the bus stops at 7.30 in the morning. Shes optimistic that the street will flourish.
Vicky Hamilton of Hamiltons furniture and interiors is down to earth. Do you like working in Church Street? Yes. Its near where I live. Any drawbacks? Yes. I never seem to get out of bloody Stoke Newington.
Marcus Zäuner, owner of The Cooler delicatessen and café, believes that trading in the street lacks depth. He wishes that specialist outlets, such as his, had attracted more general shops and stores. Some businesses have erratic opening hours which is off-putting for customers. While an advocate of the free market, he is only too well aware of the US practice of category killing where a large conglomerate will target a specific area seeking to wipe out smaller rivals.The only adequate response is to focus on quality and pricing of certain products rather trying to compete across the board.
Michael Naik, estate agent, has been in Church Street since 1984. At that time there were 29 estate agents in and around the street, now there are 10. A typical three- bedroom house in Stoke Newington then cost between £48,000-60,000. Today it would fetch around £300,000. A one-bedroom converted flat will fetch between £130,000- £150,000. He foresees the arrival of bigger shops from chains. He is not optimistic about the future of small shops and believes that supply and demand is the reason for their displacement. While sympathetic to their problem, its his belief that quite a few have been paying artificially low rents for years. Hes opposed to the free market introducing more estate agents into Church Street.
At the other end of the scale, the Fresh and Wild site fetches a reputed £80,000 per year in rent for 4,500 square feet. Its now virtually impossible to get a lock-up unit for less than £10,000 a year. Shops with restaurant potential (A3) can command premiums of £40,000 with a rental of £15,000 with a 65 seat capacity. Michael recently valued a freehold shop with restaurant use and a two-bedroom maisonette above at £423,000. He sees the trend continuing.
Church Street, Abney Park Cemetery and Clissold Park are conservation areas. This means that they are protected as areas of special interest. Angela Brady of Brady & Mallalieu Architects says that the street has a great mix of shops and other buildings and praises the beautiful renovation of the Georgian buildings. She is, however, critical of some of the modern developments,