This is a step too far for me. It looks like Brixton Rd is going to get that dreaded death knell for any high street – a Starbucks… The website Building.co.uk reported in February that Starbucks have signed a lease for 439 Brixton Rd, one of the units by the underground station. According to Building.co.uk, the company “is thought to be paying around £110,000 a year for the store which has a 1,300 sq ft ground floor”. On May 16, ‘Caroline 27’ posted on the Urban 75 forum that the lease had been confirmed by @Starbucks. Here is the recent debate on Urban 75…
And in the spirit of supporting independent businesses, see below for a mini interview with Lorient Gashi and go here to find out about the new Federation Coffee in the Granville Arcade.
When Brixton Blog interviewed Lori Gashient in January, he reported that business at the new ‘Lori’s Frothy Coffee Bar’ (in the Brixton Central Stop Shop) had been slow. We caught up with him now that summer has come and after the rumours that Starbucks have signed a lease in a unit by the station. Here he is in his own words:
“Business hasn’t been very good, but it’s going OK. I think it takes a while for a food and drink business to get going – people put the stuff in their stomachs so they have to be more confident about it. I will stay open, but the summer will be quiet because people don’t want hot drinks like coffee as much. I would do cold coffee, but I’d need a sink to prepare that. Or I’d like to sell slush puppies. My wife is from Brazil so we might sell some Brazilian food too.
I had to stop selling the popcorn, because it wasn’t selling and the people in the offices upstairs complained about the smell!”
Despite protests outside H&M yesterday against its store in Israel, the inside of the shop was manically busy, with queues stretching around the clothes racks. What did the punters think about the new store in Brixton? Is it a good thing for the area?
“I think it’s brilliant. We’ve finally got something in Brixton that we can get stuff from. It’s good to have something so local. It’s good that a big chain store is here, because it will bring a lot more people into Brixton and slowly they’re opening up and fixing the market, so it’s just getting better all round really.”
Patricia, Clapham Park
“I think it’s really nice and very pretty. The closest H&M apart from this is in central London, so it’s good to have something local.”
Chloe, Tulse Hill
“It’s good for Brixton because it’s reasonable prices and Brixton doesn’t have that much variety of clothes shops. Having said that, it would also suit the feel of Brixton to have more independent shops, but I guess that H&M is pretty ubiquitous, so it’s something you can’t really avoid anyway.”
The new H&M is here! Here’s the photo from last night, before it opened its doors. Right now it’s super busy. Luckily no riots a la Ikea or American Apparel yet…
H&M last night - the calm before the storm
A T-Mobile store...coming soon to an old Woolies building near you...
Here they come…the new shops are moving into the old Woolworth’s building. The first one to announce its arrival is T-Mobile and it is a bit of a disappointment, frankly. Who can get excited about a mobile phone shop? Especially when you can buy a SIM card for a fiver in the market.
Another high-street chain will be the second shop to move in – H&M. What do you think? Is it a depressing take-over by the big brands or just great to have new shops nearby? I personally find it hard to forgive either of them for the removal of the art deco ‘Woolworth’ lettering on the shop front…
The Woolworth building before it closed last year
Lorient Gashi in his coffee booth
In early January, a coffee booth appeared in the Brixton Central Stop shop next to McDonalds, selling cheap coffee to cold commuters. I have been walking past Lorient Gashi every morning and wondering about his stall. As it turns out, Gashi has been in Brixton a while – on the other side of the road with the Brixton Bazaar food market every weekend. When that was closed down at the end of last year, he decided to move Lori’s Frothy Coffee Bar into the Central Stop. “I stayed here because the people are alright. There’s trouble here and there, but it doesn’t affect us as traders.” Brixton residents are apparently so stuck in their ways that he has had to build up a new clientele after switching sides. “At the moment I don’t have many customers, because I’m new and not properly advertised in this booth. Maybe I’ll put a nice sign up.” The coffee is not out of this world, but it is a good price (a regular latte is £1.60). “I try to be affordable for everybody”, he says. Lori is so well-meaning that he will prove a welcome addition to many a Brixtonian morning. Asked what one thing he would say to sell his coffee, he replies, “people are just welcome to come here, you know?”