Archive for February, 2010

The “Best Of Nationwide 14 Days of Love” campaign was to find the best local shops and companies in towns and cities across the UK.  This was done by recommendation from customers. 

So which is the most loved business in Richmond upon Thames?

Physio on the River, based in Barnes!   91 people recommended it (which was 24 more than their nearest rival).  Not only is this superb Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic the most loved business locally but also rates in the top 100 of most loved businesses in the UK.  Many congratulations to Diana and her team for providing such a superb business and service to the local community

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Ask is raising money for Great Ormond Street hospital by selling a book titled Celebrity Pasta Dishes, for £5.  If you purchase a copy, £4 will go to the charity.  They will also be offering a celebrity dish starting with Davina McCall’s Spaghetti Amatriciana.  If you order this a further donation will be made.  See http://www.askrestaurant-offers.co.uk/amatriciana or go in and on Sundays to Thursdays until March 18 you can have a main meal for £1, if you purchase another.

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The secrets of Barnes village are out!  HOMES and GARDENS are publishing an article in their April edition and LIVING etc are doing the same in their June edition.  The more locally distributed TIME and LEISURE (distribution 50,000 homes) is publishing an article in June and again in their July edition, which is specifically about the Fair.  We are hoping to be interviewed soon, by Radio Jackie about the Olympic Studios (which has just been sold by EMI).  Barnes was also featured on TV last week (albeit rather briefly) on House Gift.  The team travelled all the way from Wimbledon to seek gifts at Tobias and the Angel and the Dining Room Shop. It seems word has got out….!

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Trevor Sorbie runs an amazing charity that helps women undergoing chemotherapy by having their wigs custom cut. Gary at V&G in Barnes is very active in Trevor’s charity and selflessly gives up his time to help. The charity needs money to pay for wigs and so to help Gary has come up with the great idea of walking 150 miles from Birmingham to Barnes. To sponsor Gary just pop in to V&G on Church Road.

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Sonny’s restaurant in Barnes has come up with an amazing initiative to raise funds for Haiti.  Top celebrity chefs are cooking at their sister restaurant – The Phoenix (by Barnes Common on the Lower Richmond Road).  See their web site for details and find out how you can enjoy a meal cooked by Rick Stein.   http://www.sonnys.co.uk

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The Council have asked for an annual report to be submitted, under the following headings and this is what I sent them.  It summarises the work I have done between January 2009 and January 2010.

Publicity and promotion”: Establish a database of all local retail businesses”.

  • Created and periodically updated.

“Contacts with the Council and the local Community”

  • The Council: I have developed contacts with the following departments in the council. – planning, transport, street lighting, waste disposal, parks, businesses, green businesses, licenses, funding, tourism and others.  The people in these departments know me now as we have often had informal meetings.  I have been particularly involved with the planning department over the North Barnes street refurbishment scheme and I discussed this with each individual shop on behalf of the council.  I have also lobbied on various issues affecting Barnes and successfully got our lamp posts checked and the Saturday market established. I failed to get approval for banners by the river, however.
  • I have regular contact with our 6 local councillors (Eleanor Stanier, Christine Percival and Rita Palmer in particular) also Serge Lourie – the Leader, Pamela Fleming and Geoff Acton.  Also our MP Susan Kramer and Zak Goldsmith.  I have written in detail about the problems with the landlord/ tenant law (1954) as it stands and have given this to Susan Kramer who is pursuing it with her researchers in the House.
  • I have meetings with the other town centre managers in the borough and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce regularly.
  • I have attended two distant courses with the police – Policing London (1 day) and Justice Seen Justice Done (3 days in Cheshire).   Also several local meetings at York House and in Barnes.
  • I make contact with the press whenever I can.  We have articles to be published on Barnes in Homes and Gardens, Living etc and Time and Leisure this spring.  I write every month in our local BCA magazine , Prospect and I wrote an article in the Barnes fair magazine (which generated some correspondence).
  • I attend all the council organised promotion events and many meetings at the council (for which I have designed two Powerpoint presentations).

“Gain an understanding of the major issue facing Barnes traders”

  • In order to gain an understanding of the major issues facing Barnes traders – I have held meetings with small groups of shops, distributed two questionnaires (one when I started and one a year later) and I visit all shops about once a fortnight.
  • I have attempted to deal with individual problems too (re: debts, leases etc).
  • I send out a monthly newsletter by e-mail and deliver to those who do not have e-mail.
  • All shops have my e-mail address, mobile phone number and address at Rose House.

Build on the database

  • I am researching into the details of Barnes’ landlords, meeting the ones who own many shops on an individual basis and I am planning to hold a meeting for the others.  We hope to get them interested in Barnes’ activities and in filling the empty shops with complimentary businesses that customers want.
  • For area of trade, I have recently carried out a shopper survey and earlier I carried out a survey of the catchment area of the Farmers’ market.  I have also recently sent a questionnaire to residents to find the catchment areas of our four individual shopping areas.
  • This market research (into shops, shoppers and residents) will provide a wealth of detail for use in Barnes for a while to come, I hope.

Develop contacts with other retail organisations”.

  • I asked for Mosaic and Acorn data from the supermarkets and Sainsbury’s very kindly provided.  (The police also provided useful data for us).
  • I have approached successful shops to enquire as to whether they would move into Barnes.
  • I have tried to involve the chains and franchises in local issues, but with no luck.  I have even had no luck in persuading Barclays bank to make their ATM more efficient on a Saturday morning.
  • I have recently met the marketing managers of Kew gardens, Esporto and The Barnes Wetlands centre.

Ways of making local shops more popular with locals”.

  • Summer late night shopping, shop in Barnes week, voucher schemes, Christmas late night shopping, charity events, directory of WHL shops.
  • Help shops to make the most of Barnes events – the Boat race, Head of the River, the Great River Race, Barnes Fair, Jazz at the Bull’s Head and the Wetland’s Centre.
  • We are in the process of producing a friendly map (copying the idea from other town centres).
  • I also established tree and lamp post Christmas lights this year (for the first time that people could remember) and many of the shops in the High Street have hanging baskets.
  • I have plenty of ideas but it is very difficult to do much without a budget.
  • The theme of next year’s Summer Fair is designed to revolve around our shops.
  • We are designing a web site.  We are on Facebook.  I have a blog to publicise what I am doing.
  • We also have in mind a Barnes’ Arts week, a big picnic, a loyalty card, a web site, a Barnes bag.  Action is being taken on some of these at the moment.  I have two volunteers who are helping at the moment.
  • Door drops, posters and articles in Prospect.  We hope to get some of Barnes celebs on board in the future.  Boris turned us down last year!
  • I have visited Legible London, lobbied the Council to improve sign posting within Barnes, and through Susan Kramer’s contacts I hope to get something done to improve signs at Hammersmith bus station.


  • I have raised money at Barnes Fair by running a tombola.
  • I raised money at Christmas by producing a calendar (which was an extremely lengthy and time consuming operation).
  • I managed to persuade the Water Board to give £200 to compensate for the problems caused by the road being up for so long.
  • This fund raising takes up a great deal of my time.  The richest shops in Barnes tend to sponsor the summer Fair and those links have been established for a long time.  I have not received any money from the council yet because of the match funding problem.  And I began my job in January 2009 in the middle of a serious recession.  It was not a time to raise money from the shops.  Despite this I have tried to set up a shops’ bank account and some shops have contributed but the unfairness is that the independents end up supporting the giants.  The larger the company the more they blame the mystery manager on a higher level, meanwhile giving nothing.
  • I am looking into this problem at the moment.

“Environment: Develop schemes to enhance “green” trading.

  • I am involved with “Greener Upon Thames” and have collected pledges (not to use plastic) from Barnes shops for the cause.
  • The BCA sell cloth bags and we are in the process of producing a Barnes bag which will be “green”.
  • I have written in Prospect (the BCA magazine) about the advantages of walking to the shops.

Sue Nichol (15th February 2010)

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Farmer’s Market


Last July, with the help of a student from St Mary’s college, I conducted a survey inside the farmer’s market.  The questionnaire had 9 questions and I interviewed 50 people using random sampling.  The results of this are as follows:

1.       Where do you live?

60% came from Barnes.

14% came from Putney (their Farmers’ market is on Friday).

The rest came from Sheen, Hammersmith, Fulham, Wandsworth and Harrow with 2 visitors from Staffs and Warwick.

2.       How did you travel here today?

54% walked.

30% came by car.

12% cycled and the rest by bus, train and scooter.  It surprising that so few came by bus but perhaps the lack of clear signposting at Hammersmith is the cause of this.

3.       If you came by car, how easy was it to park?

Of those who came by car, 80% said it was easy to park!  Do they know something we don’t?!

4.       How often do you come to the Farmers’ market?

50% came every week and 26% came fortnightly.

5.       From which stalls have you made purchases?

20% bought fruit and vegetables.  This is hardly surprising as Barnes has only one outlet (Two Peas in a Pod).   15% meat.   13% pastries.  11% bread.   10% olives.   8% cheese.

6% fish.   6% meat pies.   6% soft drinks   5% miscellaneous items.

6.       Would you like to see any new produce on sale here?

Flowers and plants were suggested most often with delicatessen running second.  Many people feel that central Barnes could do with a deli like Gusto and Relish in White hart lane and almost all of the houses have large gardens, so a garden centre would be terrific.  Agents of empty shops please note.

7.       Why do you choose to buy in the Farmers’ market?

26% said because it’s fresh.

22% said it was because it is good quality

20% said they wanted to support farmers (!)

13% said because they liked to buy organic.

Others thought it was fun, and only one said they thought it was cheap.

8.       Will you be visiting any shops in Barnes also today?

44% sadly said no.

33% said yes and had a particular shop in mind to visit.

23% said yes and were, just for browsing.

9.       Will you be visiting a cafe, pub or restaurant also while you’re here?

70% said Non.  Oh dear.

So to summarise Barnes Farmers’ market has a group of loyal, local followers who come regularly but unfortunately do not make a morning or a day of it.  Perhaps that is something we can work on.

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Questions Questions


They say knowledge is power.  If you are a prospective retailer in Barnes you’ll want to know what sort of shops Barnes residents want to shop in. If you already have a shop you may want to know whether your customers want you to change your opening hours.  Although there’s a surprising amount of data available on Barnes – ranging from the census to expensive reports that big retail chains can buy to find out how much Barnes residents typically earn – the real nitty gritty information isn’t available. That’s why I’m currently distributing questionnaires to randomly selected shopkeepers and residents.  I will also be approaching shoppers on Saturday mornings with a questionnaire (so please don’t run away!)

I hope to have done my number-crunching by the beginning of April and will share the information with you as soon as I have it. It’s going to make fascinating reading.

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Welcome to my blog

Because I talk to so many people: retailers, landlords, customers, the Council, Barnes residents and the BCA it’s sometimes hard to share everything I do with everyone who might be interested. Hence this blog – if you want to find out what I’m doing to support the shops in Barnes keep an eye on these pages.  I plan to update them regularly and also use them to provide you with useful links to other websites so you can get a real feel of what’s going on both in Barnes and elsewhere.

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