London is home to some pretty iconic streets for anyone who loves to shop. Oxford Street, Bond Street, Carnaby Street, Covent Garden – the list is endless. The most famous are usually filled with a mix of chain retailers for your essentials and high-end designer shops if you want to treat yourself.
But London is full of lesser-known streets that are home to a range of great independent shops that won’t break the bank. The best street in London is indeed full of independent shops. Lamb’s Conduit Street in Holborn was voted the best street in the capital according to a survey by Create Streets, which aims to highlight beautiful, economically prosperous and sustainable areas.
News that Lamb’s Conduit Street was the best in London came as no surprise to business owners, who felt the area had grown and improved massively in recent years, and residents were rushing to support the independent shops .
John Dawson, 59, who runs florist Dawson Flower & Landscape on the street, told MyLondon he’s seen the street change dramatically in recent years. “I can feel it’s improving,” he said. “Lockdown has hit everyone hard, including us, but [business] has started coming back now. It was pretty run down when we started, but it’s really improved over the years.”
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(Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)
One of the biggest changes the street has seen, according to Mr Dawson, is that it has gone from being a ‘through road’ for cars going elsewhere to a place where people go to enjoy a leisurely stroll and be independent. and get off restaurants and shops. “These independent shops are very important – they add a little bit of character to the place,” he continued.
A growing trend
The number of independent retail outlets across the country rose for the first time last year, although chain stores continue to eclipse them, the Financial Times reports. According to the data, a net 2,157 new independent outlets opened in city and city centers last year, with independent convenience stores seeing the largest growth.
Though chain stores across the country continue to outshine independent chain stores, Lamb’s Conduit Street — named for wealthy 16th-century cloth merchant William Lambe — isn’t following the trend. The result is an abundance of shops and restaurants, run by families and members of the community, offering a variety of services.
Fancy a touch of Italy? Ciao Bella is a classic Italian restaurant in an airy basement with aqua blue furniture, framed photos, and guitars hanging from the walls. Or, if you need your morning coffee, there’s Tuttis. The cafe’s owner, Farshad Saffa – known to locals as Fred – is proud to be one of many cafes on the street. He told MyLondon: “Starbucks closed here because nobody wanted to go in there. People around here – they love independent shops.”
(Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)
Resident Marc Plessier, 58, spends many of his mornings in Tuttis chatting with Fred and many of the locals, which drew him to the area nine years ago. “I came here because I wanted that sense of community in this place. It’s extremely important to me to feel connected to where I live, which you might not get in a block of flats,” he said
“I don’t want anonymity, I don’t want to know what’s going on in my area. Independent stores that are a bit friendlier; Local people go to these places, even for a Chinwag Great.”
The sense of community on the street is strong and central is the sense of independence that local businesses have fought for. With one of the few chain stores on the street — the aforementioned Starbucks — to have recently closed, it’s a battle they seem to be winning.
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