Two stories about shop closures have saddened me this week. Food for Thought became London’s leading vegetarian restaurant and became the food of choice for all the staff at Red or Dead’s second Neal St store (Red or Dead was our first brand and Food for Thought was next door). In 1984 the rent on our Neal St shop was less than £100 a week, so I would imagine Food for Thought’s would have been similar. Prices in Covent Garden have far outstripped inflation and after 44 years Food for Thought are being priced out. So one of the last indie’s leaves Covent Garden. Read more here.
It’s a similar story in Sheffield’s Devonshire Street, where a truly iconic and much loved vinyl record store Rare and Racy (again adjacent to one of the first Red or Dead shops ) is on its way out.
Read more here. Devonshire Street has always been Sheffield’s centre of alternative culture and low cost indie start-ups.
I have written extensively about protecting indie shopping and the Conservatives made a big noise with Mary Portas. But all it has been is noise. In my opinion it’s time to allow local councils to set and collect business rates and decide how they spend, rather than it go to central government. Where local start up’s get the chance to work with local councils you can get something interesting going witness Blackburn is Open.
Let’s hope that the next government doesn’t preside over so many losses of much loved indie businesses as this government has in the past 5 years.
– Wayne Hemingway