Brighter times ahead for Hampstead traders

A year on from the launch of the Ham&High s Keep it Local campaign we visit some of the small businesses we ve highlighted in our special traders section and ask how they are fairing in the run up to the festive season. Tan Parsons reports. WORDS like r

A year on from the launch of the Ham&High's Keep it Local campaign we visit some of the small businesses we've highlighted in our special traders section and ask how they are fairing in the run up to the festive season. Tan Parsons reports.

WORDS like recession, downturn and credit crunch have been on many traders tongues over the last year, but for many businesses things are now looking considerably brighter.

Piero Ferraro, who owns fashion boutique Linea of Hampstead, spoke to the Ham&High in May to say that trade had been slower than usual but he was keeping a positive attitude.

Now he says that the internet has come into its own over the last year and is keeping his business in good health.

"We've been very lucky with the internet," he said. "It's what is keeping us swimming at the moment. We have a lot of online customers from Germany, Spain and Italy - if you look worldwide there will always be people who have a lot of money.

"I'm an optimistic person. It's very easy to moan but you have to show to people that you are happy - if you give a smile to someone they feel a little bit different. You have to have the right attitude - you have to listen to people."

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In July Polish entrepreneur Magdalena Glogowska spoke to the Ham&High about her moving story of success that saw her open her own beauty salon in Heath Street.

She says that business could not be any better and that since appearing in Keep it Local earlier this year many of her old clients have tracked her down to her new premises.

She said: "It's fantastic - it really is going brilliantly.

"Business is just getting better and better and I love it here - it's a great place to be and I want to stay here for at least another couple of years."

Ms Glogowska, 38, moved to England from her native Poland in 2005 without a job or a home, and could hardly speak a word of English. But since launching her own business she has become a much-loved part of the Hampstead community.

She added: "I think the reason it's going well is that I pay each visitor as much attention as possible and give them the help and advice they need. People enjoy a relaxing atmosphere."

Mystical Fairies in Flask Walk was nominated for the best local store in the Love London Awards by Smooth Radio earlier this year and featured in Keep it Local for its success.

Owner Veronica Ford says that despite the first two quarters of the fiscal year not having been as good as they should have, things are picking up ahead of Halloween and Christmas.

"Since September things are on the way back up again," she said. "I'm not sure whether we are coming to the end of the recession or if people are just bored of it and getting back to normal ways, but we're doing fine now.

"Everything we sell is frivolous and unnecessary and that's the kind of thing that people don't need to buy in hard times. But I also think that adults would rather make do with less themselves than see their kids go without."

Many traders who have appeared in the section have had reason to celebrate with shops like Regent's Park's Marksons Pianos preparing for their centenary next year and Ace Sports in Kentish Town marking its 60th anniversary in August.

But sadly many of the stories that have made it to Keep it Local haven't been positive with shops like Dragonfly Wholefoods announcing their closure on the page which they blamed on a lack of community support.

Iconic florist Galton flowers also closed their shop on Golders Green Road after 61 years to focus on their Brent Cross Shopping Centre store.

Linda Chung, Liberal Democrat councillor and the founder of the business group NW3 Hampstead, warned against being too optimistic at this stage, however.

She said: "There's still quite a long way to go but coming up to Christmas nobody's quite as depressed as they'd have been six months ago. Things are still down but it does seem like they are on the way up at least.

"If people want their local shops to remain open it's totally essential that they choose to shop in the Ham&High area. Everything you could possibly need is located right here in Hampstead High Street - whether it's clothes, little essentials, haircuts or specialist foods.