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Highgate ruined me, says trader

PUBLISHED: 11:27 14 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:22 07 September 2010

Josie Hinton A TRADER has rounded on the community of Highgate for failing to support independent retailers after his organic health food shop went bust. Dustin Broadberry, who ran Dragonfly Wholefoods in Highgate High Street, was forced to close doors la

Josie Hinton

A TRADER has rounded on the community of Highgate for failing to support independent retailers after his organic health food shop went bust.

Dustin Broadberry, who ran Dragonfly Wholefoods in Highgate High Street, was forced to close doors last week after becoming the latest victim of the recession.

The 32-year-old shop owner has blamed the local community, which he said failed to get behind his business, instead choosing to shop like "sheep" in Tesco and other large retailers.

The closure follows a new survey by Camden Green Party which revealed that the number of vacant shops in Highgate has almost doubled over the last three years - sparking fears of further woe for traders.

"The reason we went bust is because we didn't get the support from the local community," said Mr Broadberry, pictured right. "We did really well in the first year, but then people came in complaining things were three pence cheaper down the road without realising that we had huge overheads and higher rates.

"We ended up dropping our prices. It turned into a pound shop. It's an area where people live in £3million homes and holiday in their second homes in the Caribbean. Spending £20 a week on organic food is hardly going to break the bank.

"People talk about wanting to support independent retail but you see them queuing up in Tesco and Costa. People gravitate towards what the rest of the public are doing. They're like sheep."

But John Plews, who represents Highgate Business Circle, defended Highgate shoppers. He said: "If you have a look on the high street there aren't any shops for sale, which is quite unusual given the economic climate. Of course times are hard, but as long as retailers realise that it is a time of economic pressure, and adjust their prices accordingly, then business will continue to prosper in Highgate."

Meanwhile the Green Party research revealed that while vacancy rates in Highgate remain well below the national average of 12 per cent, they have risen from four per cent in 2006 to 7.4 per cent this year, as the blackening economy forces small businesses to close their doors.

Another victim is the Goodwood builder's merchant in Swain's Lane, which closed down last month after going into administration.

Highgate councillor Adrian Oliver said: "The trend in our survey results is clear, and highlighted by the sad loss of the Dragonfly organic food shop and restaurant, which closed last week.

"It is important that each of us re-evaluate our shopping habits to see if we can spend more with our local independent shops."

The survey covers 175 shops in Highgate Road, York Rise, Chester Road, Highgate High Street and Swain's Lane.

To have your say on shopping in Highgate and the debate over whether residents do support local shops write to editorial@hamhigh.co.uk.


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