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This shop has been empty for three years because (in our opinion) the rent being asked is too high (c.£60,000 p.a.)

Chesterton’s would like to move here but need Richmond planning department to change land use from A1 (sale of goods) to A2 (estate agents office).  We fought their application and we won.  The agent has now put in an appeal. The case will be heard at a public hearing on June 7th.  It would help us to keep this premises as an A1 shop if you could complete the questionnaire, print it off and send it to “Questionnaire” Rose House, 70, High St, Barnes SW13 by end of May.

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Please make your answers clear -the questionnaire did not copy well.  Thank you very much.

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1. How often do you use Barnes village for?  (TICK ONE BOX ONLY)

 

 

Most days

Twice a week

Weekly

Monthly

Rarely

Every few years

Never

Shopping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entertainment or leisure such as visiting cafés, pubs, restaurants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estate agents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Do you live in Barnes or another part of the borough of Richmond?

 

    Barnes?………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

    Another part of the borough?………………………………………………………………………………….

 

3a. Do you think it is a good idea to have an estate agent’s office at 49, Church Road,   Barnes (formerly The Grafton Gallery)?

 

    Yes……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

    No…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

3b. What are your reasons for your answer (yes, no don’t know).

 

 

 

 

4.  Are you ever likely to visit an estate agents at 49, Church Road?  (TICK ONE BOX ONLY)

   Yes, very likely…………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

   Yes, quite likely………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

   No, not very likely…………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

   No, never……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

   Don’t know……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements about the use of 49, Church Road, Barnes as an estate agent?  (TICK ONE BOX ONLY)

 

 

 

Agree strongly

Agree slightly

Disagree slightly

Disagree strongly

Don’t know

It will encourage more people to come and use this shopping area.

 

 

 

 

 

It will  mean that people will come more often to use this shopping area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Do you have any further comments about these plans for an Estate Agency?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1. How often do you use Barnes village for?  (TICK ONE BOX ONLY)

 

 

Most days

Twice a week

Weekly

Monthly

Rarely

Every few years

Never

Shopping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entertainment or leisure such as visiting cafés, pubs, restaurants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estate agents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Do you live in Barnes or another part of the borough of Richmond?

 

    Barnes?………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

    Another part of the borough?………………………………………………………………………………….

 

3a. Do you think it is a good idea to have an estate agent’s office at 49, Church Road,   Barnes (formerly The Grafton Gallery)?

 

    Yes……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

    No…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

3b. What are your reasons for your answer (yes, no don’t know).

 

 

 

 

4.  Are you ever likely to visit an estate agents at 49, Church Road?  (TICK ONE BOX ONLY)

   Yes, very likely…………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

   Yes, quite likely………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

   No, not very likely…………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

   No, never……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

   Don’t know……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements about the use of 49, Church Road, Barnes as an estate agent?  (TICK ONE BOX ONLY)

 

 

 

Agree strongly

Agree slightly

Disagree slightly

Disagree strongly

Don’t know

It will encourage more people to come and use this shopping area.

 

 

 

 

 

It will  mean that people will come more often to use this shopping area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Do you have any further comments about these plans for an Estate Agency?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There are 10 estate agents in Barnes, taking up 15 premises, including the former Stanton Scott shop.  On the North side of the High Street there are 6 premises in a row of 13 shops – almost 50%.

 

Some might think we must have reached saturation point surely?  How can they survive in these economically tightened times?  Recent information from Zoopla allows us to speculate.  Last year was not a good year for estate agents yet there were 240 sales in Barnes.  The average price of a sale was £957,683; let’s say £1m for simplicity.  240 sales at that price raises a staggering £240 m.  Each agent say sells 24 houses and at 2% they make £20,000 per house = £480,000.  From this they would need to pay an average rent £30,000 p.a. and rates at about half rent.  Also running costs c £500 per month and wages which seem to vary from £20-50,000.p.a.  The total (if there were three sales staff in the office, is about £170,000.  Whatever the expenditure actually is, there is still a huge amount of profit to be made.  And the profit from lettings has not been absorbed in this equation either.

 

So it would seem that Barnes could accommodate quite a few more estate agents.  Another 5 or so.  And if the market picks up, maybe another 10.  The only thing that stops them is the fact that shops are usually classified as A1 which means they should be selling goods.  If the shop is on key shopping frontage then A1 should remain as A1.  On secondary frontage there is room for flexibility.  Recently the BCA and others vigorously fought the conversion of 49 Church Road into A2, to become a larger office for Chesterton.  The first round was won.  Chesterton have now appealed and the hearing for this will be in early June.  If you are interested in helping to keep no 49 as a shop, read the next blog for details.

 

The office conversion began a while back in time.  There are many offices in ex-shops already such as Octopus in Station Road, Laurent Residential in Church Road,  Andersons in 36A High Street and also in 47 and 141 White Hart Lane.

 

If we want to retain our A1 shops then these planning battles will have to continue, as there are bound to be more applications from agents.  Alternatively we could boycott Barnes agents or stop selling our houses altogether!

 

 

High Streets sometimes change rapidly, especially in times of economic difficulty.  Banks are reluctant to lend to small businesses and yet the start up costs for a burgeoning independent shop are frightening.  Under a new lease there would be a deposit, three months rent in advance, refurbishment and sometimes a premium.  There are short term licences that can be taken out to make it easier for independents but many of the agents of company landlords do not want to deal with these and consider it more of an achievement (and therefore a feather in their caps) if they sign up with a chain, an estate agent or a large charity, as they are considered “safe”.

 

2010 seemed to be the lowest spot in Barnes when there were 23 vacant shops.  Things aren’t getting much better as there are still 16 vacant shops now.  Moreover we have lost useful shops like off-licences, gift shops, a boutique, a gallery, a dvd shop and gained more charity shops and kitchen show rooms, which function a bit like attractive offices.  Consider these changes over the next 10 or 25 years or even 50 years?  Is Barnes to become a zone of office-shops?  Is the high street to become a ghost village?  When will the point of no return be reached?

 

 


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It is difficult not to be aware of the fact that there are too many
closed shops in the High Street at present and therefore little to
interest the casual shopper.  Sadly there are some lovely shops that are
surviving – the Treat Garden, Froxy Bee, Bazaar, Les Petits, Presents,
the Kitchen Shop and the food shops, but with One Stop closed, footfall
is down and they need your support.
Meanwhile it is interesting to consider just what should come into the
empty premises in order to regenerate the High Street.
The census is ten years out of date but I suspect the trends are similar
now.  The population was 19,748 in both wards.  That should be
sufficient to keep our shops thriving, although in 2006 the Telegraph
reported that Barnes was the internet shopping hotspot of Britain!
¼ of the population is aged 30-44, over ¼ are under 20 (most under 10)
and only 10% is over 60.  Thus we have a mini nappy valley here (perhaps
nappy flood plain is more geographically correct), so perhaps we should
be seeking to encourage shops that sell maternity wear, baby equipment
and furniture, educational toys and shoes.
According to Acorn our main sporting interests are skiing and rugby. 
Should we not have a sports shop catering for demand from schools as well?
Our other interests include current affairs, classical music and opera,
theatre and the arts, antiques and reading.  We also like gourmet food
and wine, the NT and foreign travel.
To satisfy this demand we need a music shop (with instrument hire for
youngsters), a delicatessen, an organic food shop and some antiques.
Visiting Northcote Road in Clapham recently (the original nappy valley),
I was impressed by the number of shops that invited browsing.  There
were gift shops with all sorts of quirky, unusual and fun things to look
at.  There were also “antique” shops with everything from shabby chic,
distressed and hand painted furniture, unusual chairs, jewellery,
cushions, vases, clocks, and ornaments.  There were also shops with
household linens, patchwork quilts, pillow cases and a host of other
interesting things to spend time rummaging through.  What they all had
in common was that their goods were tasteful but not overpriced.
Needless to say, I didn’t come away empty handed!
There were also some innovations – Sweaty Betty had evening sessions of
yoga and a run club and the equivalent of their Framers’ market is run
from permanent street stalls which adds to the fun.
There were only 2 empty shops on the periphery and only one charity shop.
Shopping should be entertaining if it is to be successful and Northcote
Road definitely has the buzz.  Now we need to find a way of making this
happen in Barnes.

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TOURISTS IN BARNES

I am hoping to make enquiries as to how to encourage more tourists to come to Barnes in the New Year.  This will make our shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants more buoyant.  We have so much to offer and our first opportunity might be The Royal Wedding.  If you are thinking of offering accommodation in your house for the Olympics perhaps you might consider a trail run this year.  Let me know and I will try to advertise your facility (Sue Nichol, Rose House, 70 High Street, SW13 9LD).

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HEADCOUNTS to gauge FOOTFALL past our shops.

I took 5 minute counts on the hour, every hour, on a Friday and Saturday in early May.  I chose May because it is a very average time for retailing.  Children are at school so not many people are away on holiday.  Weekenders tend to stay put because it is revision time for most under 20s.  I chose dry warm days for maximum output.  I counted children as well as adults (because they are effectively consumers) passing both ways on both sides of the street.

According to American research shoppers can be categorised into 5 types:

  1. Basic
  2. Apathetic
  3. Destination
  4. Enthusiasts
  5. Serious

WHITE HART LANE

Footfall is low and steady throughout the day with a rise on Friday evening.  The Saturday average (16) is only 4 up from the Friday average (12).   The trade directories from the past show WHL served the local community for daily goods and it was probably much busier.  But over the years demand has changed and WHL’s mix of shops has adapted to these changes.  For whilst the actual footfall is low; the cafés, hairdressers, cleaners etc were clearly doing a good trade.  WHL is catering for the “destination” shopper.  They aim for one shop in particular.  They do not tend to be browsing. The cat is taken to the Vet, a small family party arrives to have lunch at Annie’s, a pet dog is taken into the Waggery.  Indeed the window displays demonstrate this.  They are not elaborate but inside mouth watering temptations greet the eye.

The evening rise in footfall on Friday can be explained by commuters and a number of the convenience shops stay open to catch this trade.

NORTH BARNES.

Footfall here is higher but remarkably steady, except for a rise to almost double in the evening.  And like WHL there is little difference between Friday (average 25) and Saturday (average 28).  Here the bus stops affect the head counts and the shopper can be categorised as “basic”.  They are picking up items they need immediately (newspaper, cigarettes) or items they have forgotten (milk, wine).  Cleary the rush hours increase footfall and almost all of the shops stay open, literally all hours, to catch that trade.  There is an element of destination shopping in the cafés, restaurants, hairdressers and the Post Office because it offers a wide range of services like car tax.

HIGH STREET AND STATION ROAD


The peaks are in the morning.  This is partly related to peoples’ shopping habits.  Retirees seem to like to shop early, from 8.00 onwards.  The peaks at 10.a.m. noon and 3.00.p.m. are related to mothers, either after dropping off or collecting children from nursery school or school.  There was a 60% increase in shoppers between Friday and Saturday.  The Farmers’ market may help to explain why footfall is higher here on Saturday mornings than anywhere else in Barnes.  If that is the case, the results of my earlier shopper questionnaire at the market suggested they are not buying!  Some shoppers can be defined as “basic”, those going into One Stop and the Parish bakery for example.  Others are destination shoppers, heading straight for Les Petits, the Kitchen Shop, Presents and our Jewellery shops for a celebration.  The food and fashion shops would suggest some shoppers are “serious”, seeking special foods and brand names.

Station Road has the highest footfall of all on Saturday morning (average 70).  This is clearly related to the farmers market, the occasional bric a bac market and the retail activities at Rose House.  So this is the spot for advertising and pushing promotions!

CHURCH ROAD (COMMON) and (OLYMPIC STUDIO)


The results are very similar for these two sections of Church Road.   The average for Friday was 30 and 32 respectively.  On Saturday it was 38 for both.    Saturday is only slightly busier than Friday.  On the Friday both sections show the same peaks and troughs relating to the school day.  The type of shopper is different though.  Church Road (Common) attracts the “basic” shopper type going to Londis, Two Peas in a Pod or Village Klean.  But, because they are local people they often meet acquaintances or friends and then become enthusiasts, stopping for a coffee or to look in the fashion shops.

Some of the footfall at the Church Road (Olympic studio) end can be explained by the Red Lion bus stops and the activities (especially on Saturday mornings) at Barn Elms and St Paul’s.  Having dropped off children for sport there is then a relaxing period in which to shop.  This might be browsing but I have a feeling it is still destination shopping, where the customer knows what they want and visits the one shop to get it.

TO CONCLUDE

Footfall is usually a good indicator of locational advantage in larger shopping centres, so much so that planners plant “anchor stores” (such as M and S) in corners or at the end of long linear pathways in order to attract shoppers and thereby increase footfall past smaller shops.

Barnes however bucks the trend.  Its shoppers have come to rely on the shops they know.   Whether it be for convenience goods and services or specialist items, they target their destination shop and go directly to it.  The problem is the local shopper is a fair weather friend – literally and metaphorically.  Throughout January shops might as well have closed because of the weather, August is dead, Easter is quiet and numbers are totally unpredictable.  As a consumer, for example, I have found my favourite restaurant might be unable to accommodate me on one Saturday and empty the next.

We desperately need a higher footfall.  These were comparisons all taken at the busiest places for 5 minutes.

Barnes St Margarets Whitton Richmond
Wed 7th April 36 65 74 91
Fri 9th April 42 96 120
Sat 10th April 66 132 132

Marketing Barnes as a whole may attract more visitors which may attract more browsers.  To do this we need better signage, having a tourist information centre and filling empty shops to widen choices.

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The BestOf Richmond is facilitating a survey that will help us to better understand residents’ views about our high streets and what people really want.  Businesses, residents, retailers are all invited to complete the 3 minute questionnaire on line, so that we all benefit from the best output.
 
Here’s a link to the survey: www.thebestof.co.uk/survey

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There is a full page article about Barnes in the June edition of the interiors magazine – LIVINGetc (out now).  It has some lovely illustrations, mentions many of our shops and shows the unique products you can buy here.

The EVENING STANDARD had a full TWO page spread last evening (19th May) in the Homes and Property section.  This was packed with information, mentioned loads of shops in all parts of Barnes and included illustrations of the pond, the Sun Inn, Barnes fish shop and The Cheese shop, as well as (of course) many houses!   There was also a very nice picture of Tim Henman!

Finally TIME AND LEISURE, a more local magazine but with a distribution of 50,000 (covering all of our neighbours as far as Kingston) is publishing articles in June and July on Barnes. 

If you know of publicity for Barnes that is about to happen please let me know and I’ll put it on this blog and elswhere.  Also if you have any contacts I’ll do my best to feed them information that we hope they will publish. Sue.

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Many residents of Barnes have invested an enormous amount of money in their property.  If too many shops close, there will be a domino effect and the shopping areas will become zones of neglect and deprivation.  The heart of Barnes could suffer urban blight and as a result their investment will be affected.  This is not an exaggeration.  There are areas where this has already happened in the UK and not always predictably, for Chester is one unexpected victim.

Moreover most Barnes residents like to visit their shops, for sociable reasons and to feel that they have a part to play in the community. 

Our small shops offer things that the bigger chains cannot.  These are:

  1. Convenience – most residents can walk to and around the shops and enjoy the experience.
  2. Shopping in a calm and delightfully pleasant environment.  The crowds are never too great and we can pause by the pond or the river, which must make our shopping experience rather unique. 
  3. Freedom from being identified as “the (faceless) market”.  There is no piped muzak.  We are free of “in your face” promotions.  We don’t feel we are being manipulated.  We feel conversations with our retailers are honest and genuine and not rote learned and robotic.
  4. Unique goods – many of our traders know our tastes and work hard at visiting fairs to purchase items within our price range and to our liking.  They also stock brand names that they know we like to buy.
  5. Personal service.  Our retailers spend time with their customers.  Many are well known to them.  They go out of their way to be helpful.
  6. Their product knowledge is superb and we can call upon that with trust.
  7. Many of Barnes shops have built a strong sense of customer loyalty.

 

Typical reviews taken from the web:

I feel so lucky to live so close to such a great shop. Their selection is always great and their service always comes with a smile and a helpful hint or two.

Lovely local shop. Old-fashioned but with fresh produce every day. Can arrange special delivery to your home.

This shop is the comfortably the best of its kind in London, providing quality service with a world class selection of the product from the traditional to the obscure.   They have everything.   More than happy to recommend.  Definitely worth visiting.   A must for tourists and locals alike.

 

In 2009 the Which? Holiday guide cited Barnes as one of the top ten places to visit in the UK.  This is how they described us:

Nestling in a loop of the Thames, the affluent riverside suburb of Barnes is a favourite place to visit. Pretty little country lanes, cosy olde-worlde pubs and peaceful bank-side walks let you forget that you’re actually still in London. (The 15 minute journey from Waterloo or the bus ride from Hammersmith is proof!) There’s also the 120 acres of Barnes Common, a beautiful nature reserve that makes you feel a million miles away from the capital, (in fact you’re around 6 miles south-west of Charing Cross).

 

However Barnes has been teetering on the edge of decline, as shown by its 25 long standing empty shops.  Many other businesses are working to tight margins.  Recently a few green shoots have emerged to give us optimism.   Interest and activity can be seen, at last in some of the vacant shops and it remains to be seen if the overall number falls this year.  Market forces are giving potential retailers good bargaining positions and landlords are having to reconsider their strategies. 

However we cannot be complacent.  It would be good if we could gentrify Barnes so that it was more secure as the hub of our community.  There are many ways in which we can try:

  1. Research, to check hunches and understand changes in shopping in Barnes.
  2. Encourage landlords to fill empty shops.
  3. Attempt to discuss ways forward with Howard de Walden Estates, Northcote Road Trading Group and Mary Portas, if possible.
  4. Promote Barnes with our web site, links with other web sites, promotional materials – Barnes bag, etc.
  5. Loyalty card, wedge card or similar.
  6. Banners, planting to improve the retail appearance.
  7. Events.
  8. Barnes friendly map for visitors to pick up and walk around the shops.
  9. Barnes historic map, for the same.
  10. Council to review parking restrictions.
  11. Sign posting to barnes village.
  12. Barnes residents to be encouraged to shop locally more.
  13. Attempt to get publicity.

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