Lockdown easing 'super positive' for West Hampstead shops
- Credit: Lilian Fawcett
Shoppers and shopkeepers alike are feeling positive about the future of West End Lane in West Hampstead as life slowly gets back to normal with lockdown easing.
Most retailers and venues said they had been busy since reopening and had seen a concerted community effort to support independent businesses.
Kim Morris, manager at the popular West End Lane Books, told the Ham&High: “It’s been really busy, everyone has been super positive and really happy to be back in the shop.
“I feel like a lot of people now realise that they need to use the high street, and if they don’t, they will lose it."
She added: “I think now people make a conscious decision to not shop with huge online conglomerates and want to support the little guy.”
Non-essential shops and outdoor hospitality venues have been able to open since April 12. Many business owners and managers said their shops were packed the first weekend after reopening.
“Since we opened, it’s been quite crazy, loads of people coming to the store. The first weekend was very, very busy,” said Natalia Goncalves, manager at Season Cookshop.
Echoing Kim, she added: “People know that we’ve been here for a long time, so they’d rather come and buy from us than go to other, online retailers.”
House of Books - which also has branches in Crouch End and Muswell Hill - opened a West Hampstead branch earlier this year.
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Manager Charlotte Bunce said: "“If you make somewhere lovely for people to come to, make a destination, somewhere that people can feel good, and get the things they need, and get really nice service, and personal recommendations, and things like that, I’m not really sure that can be replaced.”
But Angus Lachenicht, supervisor at Wolfpack bar, called for greater support for independent businesses, with chains such as Caffè Nero “taking a lot of business”.
He shared his frustration at the major roadworks along much of West End Lane - which are set to last until July.
Keith Moffitt, co-chair of Fortune Green and West Hampstead Neighbourhood Development Forum, also raised the roadworks, but said: “[People] seem to be just putting up with it because I think people are just so pleased to have the opportunity to meet up with friends outside.”