Editor’s comment: Why we’re celebrating local shops

Owner of Osteria Ovada Paolo Cometa (right) with his chef Giovanni Bunocosta (left) and a table of a

Owner of Osteria Ovada Paolo Cometa (right) with his chef Giovanni Bunocosta (left) and a table of antipasti - Credit: Harry Taylor

It’s a bit late in the year for spring cleaning the Ham&High, but then spring did arrive rather late (and I managed to do my own spring cleaning at home a full 14 months behind schedule so just be grateful I’ve got there at all)

The first change you’ll notice is our new business page.

For starters, it’s where we’ll keep you in the know about the issues facing local firms and workers, and the good (and bad) things they’ve done.

But I also think it’s vital for your local paper to champion and celebrate the very best of Hampstead and Highgate’s independent businesses, especially at a time when soaring rates, expanding chains and fears about the economy have people worried for their future and rallying to protect them. The brilliant “Save Our Pubs” campaign run by my predecessors is an excellent example of that instinct.

That’s why, each issue, we’ll be profiling a different “business of the week”. It could be someone who has been quietly serving the community for years; it could be a young manufacturer or entrepreneur bootstrapping their way to fulfilling a first order.

Independent shops are what make our high streets and town centres unique. They’re so much more than just a place to get your hair cut, your fridge stocked or your keys cut. They’re the heart of the community: a hub for swapping information, a place for a smile and a chat, maybe even somewhere to leave your spare key or have your post delivered.

You’re the experts here. I want to know who you think is worth featuring each week – which shops you love and why, who you’ve got chatting to and what brilliant stories you’ve discovered. As a case in point, we swung by the cobbler’s over the road this week – a place that has reheeled my shoes and cut keys for the entire office – and discovered the heartwarming little tale of a refugee who’s never missed a day of work in decades and knows everything there is to know about umbrellas.

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So get in touch!