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Queen of shops Mary Portas hopes to boost Highgate High Street trade with new Living and Giving charity shop

Mary Portas outside her Maida Vale branch of Mary's Living and Giving. Picture: Nigel Sutton Mary Portas outside her Maida Vale branch of Mary's Living and Giving. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Friday, June 6, 2014
1:00 PM

Retail guru Mary Portas is to open the newest branch of her boutique charity shop chain in Highgate Village in a bid to revive its high street.

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The self-confessed “Queen of Shops” hopes her 13th Mary’s Living and Giving shop in Highgate High Street will become a shopping “destination and anchor” to increase footfall in the village.

Ms Portas, who lives in Primrose Hill, will launch the volunteer-run shop, raising money for Save the Children, at the end of the month.

She told the Ham&High: “The idea is that I open up in places where people have enough to give, not just in terms of gifts but in terms of time, and giving back.

“Every shop I open up is an attempt to increase footfall. I believe the future of high streets lies not just in retail but in creating destinations and social anchors.”

The 54-year-old continued: “Every time I visit Highgate, there’s a real pride in their local community. They really love their local high street.

“Probably what we will be created in Highgate is a community shop that’s full of go-getters with a bit of attitude, which I love.”

The shop, which lies on the corner of the High Street with South Grove, currently lies empty after BBC3 Hair Studios downsized and moved permanently to its other shop next door.

The Mary’s Living and Giving shops are designed to act as community hubs and are run by local people who are encouraged to host a variety of cultural events.

The chain has several branches in affluent London villages including Primrose Hill and Maida Vale, selling a mixture of high-quality vintage and designer clothing, jewellery, furniture and bric-a-brac.

Phyllis Harper, who runs Highgate Butchers in Highgate High Street, was delighted at the news.

“With what she does for high streets, I think it’s a fantastic idea,” she said. “I’m very, very happy. The shop’s in such a lovely position and it will be high-end so you won’t get riff-raff rubbish in there.”

Charlotte Bourne, associate director of High Street estate agents Taylor Gibbs, said she hopes the latest addition to the high street will make the village “the happy place it used to be”.

“The high street feels a bit dead,” the 36-year-old said. “But something like this could really help bring it up.

“There’s always been a problem in Highgate, and definitely in the last year, with passing trade. We need more shops and more reasons for people to come in and spend money.”

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