Shop Local: Hampstead and Highgate independents say public’s backing vital with ‘uncertainty’ of Christmas looming

Tanya Bielschowsky at Hampstead Antique Emporium. Picture: Polly Hancock

Tanya Bielschowsky at Hampstead Antique Emporium. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Of 16 independent traders in Hampstead and Highgate spoken to by the Ham&High, every single one has emphasised how vital local support is for our high streets.

Avril Castellazzo at WCD Interiors in Highgate. Picture: Polly Hancock

Avril Castellazzo at WCD Interiors in Highgate. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

As part of this newspaper’s Shop Local campaign, we’re encouraging readers to back traders like Keith Fawkes and Annette Rose, who have told us how much they need and value support from local shoppers in an uncertain climate.

Annette, who has run a boutique jewellery shop in Perrin’s Court for seven years, explained the pandemic had forced her to become more creative.

She told this newspaper: “Everything you see here I make myself with my ten fingers. I’ve got a really nice lot of customers who come back again and again.

“You have to work at it harder. But if you do work at it harder you should be alright.”

Hampstead Antiques Emporium. Picture: Polly Hancock

Hampstead Antiques Emporium. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Looking ahead to Christmas, she added: “The bad bit I suppose is still to come. When people can’t sit outside anymore when there’s snow. We don’t know what’s coming, whether people will be coming into a shop then.”

Tanya Bielschowsky, who first took a stall at the Hampstead Antiques Market in 1994, said: “Locals have supported us, but it’s been a lot quieter and we’ve been closed for six months. It was very difficult.”

Tanya added Christmas was a huge concern. She said: “We are fearful that we won’t get the custom, we’re very reliant on local shoppers and return shoppers. If we close down, once again there’s no business.”

Karen Whiteley of the Perrin’s Court boutique Maud and Mabel added that, like three quarters of shop-owners the Ham&High spoke to, a lot hangs on a good Christmas.

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She said: “It’s important locals support independent shops. Christmas is a very important time. We rely on Christmas to keep us going through the dark and difficult time of January and February.”

“I’m very concerned about the uncertainty of the future.

“I know the passion, heart, hard work and economic gamble of independent businesses. To have that snatched from you due to a pandemic is so cruel.”

Traders in Highgate were more positive than their counterparts on the other side of the Heath. Michael Goodwin, who’s run Highgate Bookshop for two decades, told this newspaper: “We’ve had a positive experience on the whole. It would be silly to say we haven’t. Now everyone’s behaving themselves, everyone’s wearing masks, no problems at all with that.

“We’ve got a good, loyal clientele and that’s very pleasing to know.”

Meanwhile Avril Castellazo, who has run WCD Interiors for 25 years said the strong community spirit might have even seen her shop busier this October than last. She said: “It’s absolutely brilliant, we’re really busy. People are staying local, they’re really supportive.”

“I would say we’ve probably been busier this October than last October, dare I say. People are definitely staying more local.”

The Ham&High’s Shop Local campaign is designed to highlight the hidden – and not so hidden – gems on our high streets. If you run a shop in our area we should be shouting about, contact the newsdesk at