HIGH STREET HEROES
One of the positive things to come out of the current pandemic is the realisation for many of us of just how wonderful our high streets are.
High streets in the UK have been in decline over the past 20 years. Highgate has seen many traders struggling and essential shops closing.
During the pandemic, many of our retailers who were allowed to stay open under government guidelines did so, and made us realise that we can get most of what we need five minutes walk from our front doors!
Thoughout the Highgate Festival 2020 we celebrated those retailers – learning a bit about them and thanking them for their long hours, hard work and support of our community in lockdown.
Many others who were not able to stay open are just as wonderful and we’ll be celebrating them very soon – watch this space!
Heath and Magnus from the Red Lion and Sun.
Heath has run the Red Lion and Sun since 2007, and also has another pub in Hoxton, The Wenlock Arms, which he runs with Magnus.
The Red Lion and Sun has been keeping locals in wine, spirits, frozen margaritas as well as their award-winning food – for when you’ve just had enough of bloomin’ cooking.
Magnus moved in with Heath and his family at the beginning of lockdown and has been keeping many entertained with his musical performances – together with Poppy, Heath’s daughter (a mini Kate Bush!) Check out their Instagram
Imrani of North Hill Food & Wine.
Originally from Turkey, the family took over the shop in 2000. It is now run by brothers Imrani and Aziz.
They have always been brilliant at serving the local community but came into their own during lockdown, taking phone orders for those who were self-isolating and being open for essentials.
Jez from Apemen And The Bean.
Jez has been serving delicious coffee outside the cemetery for five years now. He started his own unique adventure with skills heacquired working in iconic London restaurants such as The Ivy, The Wolseley and Ottolenghi – which is where he fell in love with coffee!
Jez has recently started trading again, and says having the cemetery reopened is a great news, considering the current economic state. He hopes to see all aspects of the hospitality trade getting back into the swing of things soon!
Janet from Village Flowers.
Janet has been a florist in the village for over 30 years in various locations – her new one being slap bang in the middle of the High Street and looking very smart too.
For the first few weeks of the pandemic she was closed as it was hard to get any supplies, but was still taking telephone orders. She then managed to open with a great selection of plants and shrubs and also has been making deliveries of heavy garden supplies, such as compost to self -isolators or anyone who needs them.
Janet loves dogs and always has a treat for our four- legged friends.
Laura from Chango.
Another recent addition to the Village, Chango sells delicious Argentinian empanadas and Nicaraguan coffee.
They’ve stayed open during the pandemic – allowing us to take a break from our usual lunches and being, for a while, the only place selling a decent coffee! Laura has worked at Chango since January.
Ismail and Beste from Highgate Wholefoods.
A recent, but very welcome addition to the village, Highgate Wholefoods sells organic fruit and veg as well as a whole range of organic products – from beans and pulses to washing powders and toothpastes.
They have serviced the community amazingly well during the pandemic and have become a firm favourite for many.
Beste has worked in the shop for about a year and is a graphic designer and photographer. Ismail has been on board helping out since the pandemic began.
Angela, Samia and Max from our local, independent pharmacy, Bailey & Saunders.
Jonathan (not pictured, as busy working in the back!) has owned the pharmacy for 27 years and Max is his son who has been helping out.
These frontline workers have been amazing during the pandemic, staying open to make sure the vulnerable could get their medication, keeping us supplied with hand sanitiser and face masks – always with a smile and friendly word.
Ihlan of Fam Green Grocery.
They’ve only been open two weeks but Fam Green Grocery has become a firm favourite in the lovely new development at Swains Lane.
They sell a fabulous array of fresh fruit and vegetables (we counted at least five different types of chilli) as well as a brilliantly stocked grocery department. The fresh juice bar is well worth a visit after a stroll on the nearby Heath.
This is Ihlan, who runs the store with his family. This is their second shop, the other being in Tufnell Park, where they have been for 10 years.
Welcome to Highgate!
Walt, Avril and Luna of WCD Interiors.
Avril and Walt have been in the village for 24 years. Walt used to be a set designer and is now a furniture maker. Avril has always been in interiors and fashion retailing, as you can tell by the beautifully curated pieces in the shop.
During the pandemic they opened for phone orders, delivery and later for individual private shopping allowing us to purchase cards and presents so we could show friends and families we were thinking of them on birthdays and other celebrations when we couldn’t see each other.
Their chocolates helped with our much needed “sugar highs”! They also donated their Easter eggs to the Whittington.
They will be opening fully with more than 90% of their stock being new designers and small companies with interesting stories to tell.
Avril’s take away from lockdown is that community and being together is the most important thing. She feels the support in the village for the High Street has been overwhelming – let’s try and build on it.
Taha and Ammar from Highgate Stationers.
Or, as they are known in the village, “the men who sell everything”.
Their parents and uncle bought the shop as a post office in 1978. When the post office closed 10 years ago, they re-invented the shop as a hardware, electricals and general store.
Forget Amazon, there isn’t anything you can’t find in Highgate Stationers, from gardening supplies to printer ink.
Our daughter broke her laptop at the start of lockdown. With brilliant support from Renaz, she was up and running quickly and didn’t miss her university deadlines.
Renaz from Tech Help.
Renaz has been helping those in the village who need any sort of technical help for more than two years and stayed open during the pandemic. She was definitely an “essential service” with all of us relying on our computers and phones more than ever during lockdown.
She helped key workers at the Whittington with all their tech, giving them a fast and efficient service.
Before opening the shop Renaz worked as a PA and in various banks.
Seyho from Brooksby
Seyho and his wife Yuksel have owned Brooksby for 12 years, bringing up their three girls above the shop. They don’t only sell newspapers and the most amazing selection of magazines. The rear of the shop is a great “mini-supermarket” and also sells more unusual ingredients.
You can get freshly baked Dunns of Crouch End bread and, during the pandemic, Brooksby branched out into selling fruit and veg, which has been a brilliant addition to their offering. If he doesn’t have it, Seyho will get it for you and deliver it in record time! They have been invaluable to the community before and during the pandemic.
Lisa’s mum, Barbara, ran the shop for the 15 years before Seyho bought it. Lisa grew up above the shop and has been working there again for the past three and a half years.
Emine from Limone.
Emine has been selling her fabulous and unique homemade food, wine and amazing range of oils, pasta and chocolates at her deli in the village for eight years.
Although she was shut for a few weeks at the beginning of the pandemic, she soon opened again selling safely from her shop door – enabling us to buy all those unusual ingredients we needed for those complicated recipes we always promised ourselves we’d make if only we had the time, and, in lockdown we did!
My vote is highgate Butchers because I would have starved without them!Chris
Binho and Lee from Highgate Butchers.
While Phyllis, Lee’s mum, has been self-isolating above the shop, Lee, Binho and Paula have “held the fort” brilliantly during the pandemic. Staying open throughout, working incredibly long hours (in regular times, Lee always gets up at 4am to go to the market) and making sure that we could feed our families with fresh meat.
Binho is originally from Brazil and has worked at Highgate Butchers for 12 years, while Lee has been on the shop floor for 25 years.
We would like to nominate Ricky Green of Greens of Highgate. They have shown a huge community spirit by delivering from the pharmacy and the butchers to those in need.The Lewis Family
Big Lou and Phil from Greens.
Our brilliant greengrocers has stayed open throughout the pandemic, keeping the village supplied with their high quality fruit and veg, and delivering locally too.
At one point, Greens were delivering up to 400 boxes a day to the local and surrounding community.
Big Lou is always buzzing around the shop and, when not doing that, he sings/plays keyboards and bass guitar.
- Phil is responsible for much of the music you hear in the shop.
- He lived in Brazil for more than two years, loves a chat and is about to be a new dad very soon…
Maya and Fiona of Electric Daisy Flower Farm.
Maya is the assistant manager of the beautiful Electric Daisy Flower Farm, a new and very different flower shop on Swains Lane. She is wearing a mask which has been hand decorated by another assistant at the shop.
All the flowers are British and grown on Fiona’s farm in Somerset. They have a “seed to bouquet” ethic. Fiona was formerly an artist, and they produce the most “artistic” displays we have ever seen!
They opened on 7 February and had to close because of the pandemic on 17 March. All the flowers they had in stock were given away to passersby.
As the flowers from the farm could not be sold, they used them to create bouquets for key workers and those in need in their surrounding area – bringing some beauty into their lives when at a real low.
You can read the full story in this month’s World of Interiors (Soil Survivors on the final page of the magazine).
Welcome to Highgate!
The High Street Heroes series was coordinated by Nicola Caisley.