THE TRADERS MAKING HERNE HILL BOOM
After the disastrous floods of summer 2013, Herne Hill is back on its feet and buzzing. Living South Resident meets some of the traders making the area boom…
Bronwyn Lowenthal of Lowie
Why did you choose to open your first shop in Herne Hill?
I established Lowie 12 years ago. It’s been an online store for seven years and we opened the shop in November 2012. I’d always wanted to open a shop because I love the retail experience. I’d been looking for premises in Herne Hill for some time because I live here and I love it.
What’s the retail community like?
It’s great. I feel like a bit of a pioneer on Dulwich Road but there’s James at The Society for the Protection of Unwanted Objects, he’s such a character, then there’s Nadia at Crunch, a healthy cafe that’s just opened a few doors down.
What are your favourite shops?
I love The Lido Cafe and Baigal Beauty, Elaine The Flower Lady is so friendly and I spend a lot of time in the park, running.
Lowie, 115 Dulwich Road SE24 0NG; 020 7733 0040
Katya Davies of Myla & Davis
When did you open in Herne Hill?
We opened in 2009. I’ve always lived in Herne Hill and we’ve really enjoyed growing our business here. We’ve opened a second place in East Dulwich and soon we’ll be opening a salon in Brixton.
What do you love about Herne Hill?
It’s got a nice mix of everything and everyone knows each other. There are so many independent businesses here, the area’s been really successful at keeping out the chains. I think that’s because the people here are more thoughtful on what they spend their money on and like to invest in independent traders. The market on Sunday has been a massive success and I think that’s partly because it’s been community led. Something like that can invade an area and create competition for the existing traders but we worked together with residents and City & Country Farmers Markets to organise it.
Myla & Davis, 291 Railton Road SE24 0JP; 020 7207 2865
When and why did you decide to set up in Herne Hill?
We opened on 6 November last year. I’ve lived in Herne Hill for 20 years and I’ve seen the area change over the years. Me and my husband Neil were made redundant within six weeks of each, just other after we’d had our second daughter, but we’d been planning to open a shop for years, so while we were a bit panicked, it did give us the opportunity to go for it.
Why a butcher and larder?
We both have retail management backgrounds, Neil managed Planet Organic in Westbourne Grove, which had a butchery counter, and from there the idea was born. People don’t tend to shop locally for their tins of beans or cereal. But they will for quality meat and then we have loads of other nice things that go with it too. There are great lunch and coffee places in Herne Hill, but not many places where you can buy dinner ingredients. You can get your fruit and veg from The Fruit Garden around the corner and Grant does a great job, which is why we only do a small selection of organic veg. We try to complement and work alongside other local businesses – we stock bread from Blackbird Bakery, for example.
What would you recommend people try this Christmas?
The classics are always the best! Turkey, rib roasts, multi-bird roasts, gammons, panettones, mince pies, would all make it onto my Christmas list. We also have lots of great new products throughout the year, so this month we’ve got beetroot ketchup, Herne Hill honey, almond butter and pomegranate molasses (which is really hard to find!).
Dugard & Daughters, Arch 286, Milkwood Road SE24 0EZ; 020 7733 2608
When did you open?
We’ve just celebrated 10 years of Tales.
Why did you choose Herne Hill?
I lived in East Dulwich and was teaching in West Dulwich, and it became apparent that there was a need for a bookshop that really celebrated children’s books and where they could come in and get their hands on the books and be read to with all sorts of events and performances. We wanted Tales on Moon Lane to have the feel of a toy shop, for it to be lively, and what’s nice is that it’s often the children dragging their parents into the shop.
Were you affected by the floods?
We were devastated. We lost over half the stock and had to start all over again. We were stripped back to the bricks but we were one of the first shops to reopen because we were determined to open by Christmas. The positive that came out of it though was the sense of community and how incredibly kind people are.
What are your plans for Christmas?
We’ll have a Christmas window display, a shopping evening with a celebrity illustrator and we have a beautiful book called Maps that I think will be a top seller.
Tales on Moon Lane, 25 Half Moon Lane SE24 9JU; 020 7274 5759
When did you open and what’s changed since then?
We opened in 1987 and a lot’s changed. It took us four years to build up the business and it was challenging. We’re constantly evolving. People are more aware of food provenance now, so we’ve worked hard to make our menu 99% sustainable and MSC certified. We started doing Gluten Free Tuesdays and we got so busy that we do it on Monday nights too now. We’ve also got planning permission to build a bigger upstairs area and a roof terrace.
What do you love about the area?
The people are lovely and commuting is easy from here. The shops are becoming more specialised, which is great. The new butchers, Dugard & Daughters, is unbelievable and Mimosa’s products are just, wow, their croissants are soft and delicate. It’s an ever-changing area.
Olley’s Fish Experience, 65-69 Norwood Road SE24 9AA; 020 8671 8259
When did you set up your business?
I set up my school 12 years ago in Dulwich, but we opened the premises here five years ago on 31 October 2009.
Why did you choose Herne Hill?
Because this is where we found the best premises. Originally I was hiring church halls and schools but I really wanted my own space. Fortunately we managed to get this place, which used to be a Royal Mail sorting office, because it’s right by the station in the centre of Herne Hill. A lot of dance centres have to be out of town just to get the space.
What do you love about the area?
Brockwell Park, because I’ve got two dogs, so we spend a lot of time there. Dugard & Daughters is great for fresh meat for Sunday roasts and things like that, and the market on Sunday is really great. We have lessons on Sundays now so it’s great for teachers and parents that there’s so much going on all the time.
What’s changed in the area since?
Milkwood Road’s changed quite a lot and will continue to do so, hopefully. A couple of those units are still not being used but it’s a lot better than it was. I feel like it’s busier, the school’s busier, and I feel like the area is really buzzing.
South London Dance Studios, 130 Herne Hill SE24 9QL; 020 7978 8624
When did you open up in Herne Hill and how has the area changed?
We’ve been here for 14 years and it’s a much nicer area now. Obviously house prices have quadrupled so that has an impact on the local shops, but I’ve found it to be a lot more interesting, more diverse and more upmarket.
How were you affected by the floods last year?
We lost everything, but it gave us an opportunity to close down and rethink the shop design. We’ve built our business considerably since the flood, so while it was horrible, good things have come out of it in the sense of the renewal of the area.
Christmas is on the horizon, what are some of your bestsellers?
High-end chocolates, panettone, French black-footed turkeys, and we’ve just ordered in some Moroccan ceramics that we’ve had handmade for us. We do catering for large institutions like Dulwich Picture Gallery and Alexander McQueen, so coming up to Christmas that side of the business is very busy.
Mimosa, 16 Half Moon Lane SE24 9HU; 0333 666 8838
What do you like about the area?
It’s so friendly. I’ve been here for six years, since before they pedestrianised the area outside the train station, and it’s made a huge difference. The market here on Sunday is lovely, it creates a vibe in the area and we get people coming in from other areas. Of course it’s made the prices go up and some people have been forced out, which is a shame, but it’s absolutely buzzing here on a Sunday now.
What was it like here during the floods last year?
It was a struggle because there was no footfall. It was really quiet, but we got through it. The area around The Half Moon was terrible and now it doesn’t look like it’s going to open again, which is tragic because that pub’s got real history. But everyone supported each other through it and you just don’t get that sense of community everywhere.
The Flower Lady, 297 Railton Road SE24 0JP; 020 7733 2525