#ShopLocal: The New Normal for Crystal Palace Traders

As lockdown measures ease and we all try to adjust to the ‘new normal’, local photographer James Balston takes a lap around Crystal Palace Triangle to see just what that means for local traders

All photography: James Balston
Words: Adapted from James Balston’s photojournal The Triangle SE19

Westow Hill

At Decorum, there’s now a hygiene station by the entrance with hand sanitiser, and the shop itself will be regularly cleaned. Being one of the larger shops on the Triangle, there’s room for a one-way system for a safer flow of people. Café chairs and tables have been removed, but takeaway coffees are available. Card payment only.

À L’Étage 2, the art and craft gallery run by Tine Bladbjerg, has hand sanitiser and masks at the ready. There will be restrictions on the numbers of customers allowed in at any one time, and when showing jewellery close-up, Tine will be wearing a mask. At the desk, there will be more space between staff and customers.

Church Road

Bambino has always been an Aladdin’s cave, but owner Andy Stem has managed to clear some space and display items around the perimeter of the shop. Touching stock is generally discouraged, but it should be easier to see everything and prices will be clearly displayed. If you want to try on the leather gear for which the shop became legendary (the Vogue fashion team sourced a biker jacket for a couture shoot with Kate Moss from Bambino back in 2008), you can – anything you touch will then go into a trunk to be quarantined for 72 hours.

At Urban Cellar, Ken and Stephen have been running a successful delivery service during lockdown, and this will continue for the foreseeable. You ca visit the shop though, where Ken will be serving from a counter set up at the door.

Westow Street

At Simon Carter menswear, the layout is somewhat tricky for social distancing. For that reason, manager John Wetherill is having to limit customers to two at a time. You can still try things on, like their famed Liberty print shirts. Afterwards, they will be steamed and quarantined to help keep everybody safe.

Harriet & Adam de Wolff at theindigotree.com have placed a pair of mannequins at the door, two metres apart, to serve as a reminder to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The gifts, clothing and homeware store has set up a one-way system, and screens are in place on the counter to keep staff and customers safe. There’s rooms for up to six people to safely shop at any one time.

Merlin Shoes has been operating on an appointment-only basis, which will continue, but walk-in customers are now welcome too. Booked appointments take place at the back of the shop, with room for one parent and one child, while walk-ins are served at the front. There’s a hand sanitiser dispenser at the door, and Heena and her assistant Ben will be wearing masks while serving customers. Customers are asked to bring a spare clean pair of socks to try on the shoes, which will then be sprayed and quarantined.

Do South is open to shoppers from Thursday to Saturday. Owner Freddie Oke and his team have been reorganising the space to make products clearly visible in the windows, while the shop interior has more space for interior design consultations (Freddie has been working to shift his business from a shop to a by-appointment interior design studio since before the COVID-19 crisis).

At Lowie, owner Bronwyn Lowenthal has created an area for customers to sit, while staff bring the clothing to them, before putting them in a changing cubicle for customers to try on. One customer can be accommodated in the seated area, while another tries on clothing. Customers are requested to wear a mask, which are available in store.

At Reunion, Alison McNaught is hopeful that she might be able to open soon for outdoor dining. The Baba G’s Bhangra Burgers pop-up, serving up burgers for takeaway and delivery, has been such a success that she hopes it will become a permanent fixture at Reunion.

Haynes Lane

Sian Foley of Alan’s Antiques has been decluttering the shop to crate space for a one-in-one-out flow of customers. She also plans to display and sell as much as possible from outside, weather permitting. Sian is also a director of Shop SE19, an organisation created to support local shops and businesses, which is more important now than ever.

Haynes Lane Market has been slowly returning to normal in its usual Saturday slot. There is plenty of room in between stalls for safe queuing, and a team of helpful teenage marshals to direct you. Not all stalls have returned, however, with the likes of Brett & Bailey continuing to deliver to your door.

Crystal Palace Food Market has also reopened, keeping its normal hours of 10am-3pm, although the market is smaller to make room for managed queues and hygiene measures.

Anerley Hill

Just down the road on Anerley Hill, Beth Mander from The Paxton Centre has divided the shop/gallery/cafe/hot-desking venue into clear zones. The cafe, close to the front door, is open for takeaways, the shop is restricted to the front on the right-hand side, and the rest is given over to well-spaced desks for freelancers. Plus, the windows have been fixed so that they now open for much needed ventilation.

Beth Mander at The Paxton Centre on Anerley Hill