The Idea Store

Billy writes:

I'm in the early stages of deciding on opening a shop in the Brockley area. I have a location in mind at the moment and I'm really interested in what the local community would like to see on their high street. I want to open a business that would benefit the community and something that people will visit regularly in the area. I'd welcome people's feedback - what would people like most?

118 comments:

Marty Brown said...

A bookstore!

Ellis Mizen said...

Definitely a book shop

Brockley Nick said...

Ha, I told him that people would say book shop and I told him to ignore the siren calls, assuming he wants to make any money.


How many books would you have to sell each week to pay the rent, rates and staff salaries? How many people would use the book shop regularly, given that physical book sales are in terminal decline (6.5% fall in 2013), there are already places to buy children's books here and second-hand book sales most weekends, where people can barely give them away.


To have a book store that book lovers would actually appreciate, you would also have to have a large space (rare in this area) and wide inventory (expensive).

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Do we need a bookshop when we have the micro library?

Rawley said...

Waitrose.

Monkeyboy said...

three years ago i would have said a really decent butcher or fishmonger, still may be some mileage there but i only food shop at weekends and Brockley Market fills that hole, also it needs specialist skills.

terrencetrentderby said...

Nandos or Burger King franchise would work

terrencetrentderby said...

Why? You wanna watch him slowly fail and go bankrupt?

Cone Fairy said...

a book shop / record shop?

Ellie o said...

Yes a butcher or fishmonger would be amazing.

wckhmrd said...

I am an avid book-lover, but please Do Not open a bookstore here - it will be financially ruinous. A food franchise of a chain like Nando's, BK or similar might be a good idea - appeals to a whole cross-section of the community, recognisable (so building brand awareness will require less work), and gives us something we don't currently have here.


I wish you very good luck, whatever you do. Thumbs up to any investment in SE4.

kierta said...

For the love of God, a record store.

Jennifer said...

I would love it if Brockley had something akin to the Newington Green Greengrocers.

Martin said...

I second that

guest said...

a proper dry cleaner, fishmonger, cafe nero, carluccio, nando,

Lorne said...

A CEX type shop

heckmcbuff said...

A sushi train, a 50's style milkbar, a high-end antique and object d'art emporium, a real art gallery that sold paintings and framed pictures, an electronics shop that sold expensive high quality hifi equipment. An interior design shop that specialised in lofts.

EMX said...

A restaurant that sells good, affordable food like quality pizza or burgers on lewisham way. Meze Mangal needs some competition.

Brady said...

"an electronics shop that sold expensive high quality hifi equipment"


...for swift recycling through greater Lewisham?

The Thinker said...

I would recommend you find your passion first, rather than open a shop for shop sake. I'm sure your bank balance, business plan, bank manager, accountant, personal health and loved ones, would all agree.
You'll make a better go of any business you truly have passion for and where there is ultimately a credible business case. Also passion helps when the learning curve is steep. good luck.

What's your background, Billy?

El said...

Hi Billy - I'm happy to give you the benefit of my experience of running a retail business in the area having done so for the past 3 years. Email me if you're interested in picking my brains. el@elskitchen.co.uk

Bogarte said...

Craft shop. To fill in the gap that Sounds Around used to for small things for kids, pens paper glitter etc. for the adults wool and other things for sewing etc. although there are two fabric shops in Lewisham they don't really cater for the crafter, patchwork etc. the owner could buy in craft kits and open evenings for lessons which would be another income stream.

heckmcbuff said...

I don't get it??

Vandelay Industries said...

An object d'art emporium, an interior design shop specialising in lofts!! Lolzzzzzzzz! You forgot the koi carp dealers and the diamond merchants. This is either mighty fine trolling or someone has amnesia and thinks we're in Knightsbridge.

Jade said...

Lewisham doesn't really cater for the crafter? sorry but where are you shopping? :) Granted you cant get everything that you would get in say Hobbycraft, but you can get quite a few bits in Lewisham depends what you are looking for :)

nicole said...

Another yummy, funky restaurant. Or a place that rents out desk space to people who want to work from Brockley but not from home.

Richard said...

As much as I dislike the food at Nandos, the idea is great. With the local population continuing to increase, we could do with a chain restaurant that can appeal to the vast majority. Carluccios maybe not, but a Nandos would… Also, I know it is not a shop but we are crying out for a gym operator...

BigStu said...

If you open a store to cater for the whims of the locals then you could be severely disadvantaged if those whims change.

As mentioned above, the best answer would be to open a business you feel passionate about. A book shop is a terrible idea, see below.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/feb/22/independent-bookshops-73-closures-2012

Do you also think the area is crying out for another craft shop? Probably not.

If you plan on opening a business locally then no doubt you are smart enough to have taken the time to investigate what establishments seem to be doing well in the area? I can think of a few.

Guesty said...

The thing I want and would pay for regularly is good quality 'home cooked' take away food. A store that could offer me a meal that I could pick up on the way home from the station, would be something I'd welcome.

Caro said...

Please don't open a Nando's. Seriously why would you do that? I was discussing with my husband that a fruit and veg shop (but nice one like the one in Newington Green) we would use the whole time.

Bob said...

Something similar to the allotment in new cross. Some good quality cheese, meat, vegetables, bread, ready made dinners. Used to visit the allotment regularly when we lived in new cross and there's nothing in brockley that is convenient for us and similar

dim wit said...

You mean like the Broca?

headhunter said...

Absolutely.... As romantic as a nice bookshop sounds, it would never make money. May as well flush your money down the toilet...

Richard said...

Greengrocers or a fishmongers - we would use either all the time!

Rhymer said...

A butcher or fishmonger would be great.

Aricana said...

A new pizza place would be good but would appreciate any new daytime and evening eat in/takeaway. Really miss Thai food from Smiles but it doesn't have to be Thai, just want more options.

Marty Brown said...

Hey, I never said it would be a good idea, but I'd love to have one in the area. I'd love a record store too. If you want to make money, open a betting store,

brockley man said...

Primark sounds good.

brockley man said...

So u haven't been to Nu Spice or Tickle Me then!
They sell good guality "home cooked" meals for take away.

Ben said...

Just open it in Brockley Cross, many vacant units - crying out for something different

Bazza said...

Ann Summers or Harmony.

Bogarte said...

Ok I admit it, I want a wool shop! Preferably something like iknit london in Waterloo. A local supplier of the Rowan range would save going up into town. :-)

Isabelle said...

A greengrocer like the turkish food center in Lewisham with a variety of fruits and vegetables at a reasonable price. They also sell good cheese, meat and bread. A similar model would be great.

anonymouse said...

A gentlemens' barbers, where I can get my beard trimmed.

Crofty said...

Greengrocer or bread bakery or a combo as others suggest... would be incredibly useful. Bookshop would be glorious - and it has been done with success fairly locally in recent times against all the odds, at Rye Books which opened late 2011. But I accept you'd have to be very very brave. Greengrocer/breadshop with second-hand bookshelf...?

local gal said...

http://www.cookfood.net/
Delivers or has two shops near, blackheath and dulwich

Crofty said...

Must admit I was selfishly thinking of Crofton Park shopping strip here ... I do know the Doorstep Bakery does sterling stuff further up Brockley Rd, and walking past there at 4am and seeing clouds of bread-flavoured steam emerging is one of the treats of the area.

Jason WH Page said...

Thanks for the question. One idea would be to open a multi-use community hub serving great coffee and light refreshments - small sweet and savoury plates and really great wine and coffee - and hire out the space[s] for bespoke programmes and events. Encourage community participation through excellent customer service, time-banking and incentivising local residents to support in the build and some of the daily operations. Open up for workshops and hot-desking for entrepreneurs and students and partner with organisations like somewhereto_, NCS, CityYear to bring more social action, engagement and community-building opportunities to Brockley residents. I would love to help build community participation.

Gash said...

A bar in Brockley Cross you actually want to sit in and wile away a Sunday.
The Gantry is great but the bar is so small.

Loops said...

Definitely a greengrocer or a fishmonger, I would be all over that. Or a restaurant, you can never have too many of those.

jules said...

not sure on the size of the shop but what about a combination of things, like a sort of craft market selling high quality items - a small book section, with a deli counter with lovely cheeses, maybe a local craft beer section, bit of home wares perhaps. whatever you decide, good luck with your venture

tinymaddie said...

Greengrocer! Or fishmonger

Nionios said...

A butcher or fishmonger or a proper bakery would be great.

MJS said...

Yes, a butcher, greengrocer or fishmonger would be very welcome. I suspect that a decent furniture shop would do well in Brockley. A mix of antique, mid-century and modern pieces would cater well to both the existing and newly arriving Brockleyites

Jennifer said...

Hi Dim Wit – I know the Broca sells some interesting food but the Newington Green greengrocer is on a completely different scale. It has a huge range of quality fruit and veg and it's all really fresh and appetizing (sometimes the produce at Broca looks a bit sad and past its best). If you're ever around Canonbury it's worth a look!

Jez said...

Discard your cynicism Nick! Locally, but far enough away not to be direct competition, there are indy bookshops that survive without a massive space, nor a wide inventory. And it is possible to hire staff who know about books, you know. Two nice examples of south-east London indy bookstores are http://www.reviewbookshop.co.uk/ and http://ryebooks.co.uk/.

Brockley Nick said...

You are right. It is possible to run an independent book shop. If someone announced they were an experienced bibliophile who had a plan to open a bookshop in Brockley, I'd be delighted. But if someone wants my view on what kind of shop would do well here, it would be pretty far down my list..

Brockley Jon said...

You tried Stag & Bow Forest Hill?

Sherlock said...

Jeez I bet he's wishing he never bothered asking. Ignoring the fact that Waitrose, M&S Food, Nando's, Carluccio's etc etc are not franchises! Also ignoring that there isn't a single suitable unit large enough for any of them. These frothing mostly middle class fantasises are embarrassing. He said he wants to do something that benefits the community, Burger King?! People don't just become fishmongers on a whim, it is a skill and something that needs learning and have a passion for. The easiest way to get a place stuffed to the gills is booze, we need more bars and drinking holes round here.

DJ said...

I seldom think of going to Brockley for an after work or weekend drink or meal because there's such limited choice and the places that exist are usually full at the weekends. Therefore, I think a cafe/restaurant/bar would be the thing that would be most needed and popular. I can't see how a bookshop, greengrocer or butcher would be viable in the long (or even possibly the short) term.

Jez said...

The micro library?

Jez said...

Fair play to you. Have you decided what you'd like most?

Simply Lorna said...

Oh I'll add my suggestion - yup a coffee shop/cafe/bar would be brilliant. But one that is strictly over 18's, no kids, no babies, no prams..... *awaits abuse* It would be amazing.

BTW - "A sushi train, a 50's style milkbar, a high-end antique and object d'art emporium" - good lord.

Mighty atom said...

Ah, you took the bait...

Tamsin said...

Seems a strange question. Can I suggest that you tell us what you would most enjoy selling out of the range of what is missing:
adult shoes
bespoke tailoring
stationery
books (new and/or second hand)
and then see if there is an eager response.
Suggest that with either of the last two you also do an on-line service as I don't think you would get enough foot-fall with any of them to pay the rates.

Rose Bud said...

A florist/wine bar second hand book shop combo - a bit like 'you don't bring me flowers' in hither green with booze!

Bogarte said...

Stag and Bow is nice but has a small wool selection. I did buy some lovely bobbly braid there once!

Nick said...

A good greengrocers - not an organic expensive one, just a good, cheap one selling really fresh produce like the Cypriot and turkish places in North East London. At the moment Lewisham market is the best option for fruit and veg, and that's only at weekends and isn't that close.

Brockley Banker said...

Any chance of a decent wine shop?

Anonymous said...

Impressive list of businesses that will all certainly fail.

Lord Sir Alan said...

Presumably he also wants to make a living. Not sure you can do that with a wool shop or record store.

Headhunter said...

Lewisham market is open Mon to Fri too, if you're around during the week...

BacktoBrock said...

Definitely funky family friendly food establishment to give the Orchard a run for its money. A Pizza Express, though not funky, is a smart brand and actually cheaper than the Orchard...blimey even a Starbucks would be welcome as somewhere that I could take a pram and which wasn't full every time I tried to get a seat there. Failing that, any chance you could take over The Wickham and turn it into a decent pub please? I'd be much obliged...seems like a waste of a good site at the mo...

Ugh said...

The Wickham is a great pub. I suggest you take your pram, head for the nearest Starbucks and stay there.

Jason WH Page said...

Mr. Lawrence.

Jason WH Page said...

Butcher= Peter James. Fishmonger - Deptford, Nunhead, Dulwich, Pekcham. Furniture shop=Lewisham Way, Crystal Palace, New Cross Road.

Jason WH Page said...

Butcher= Peter James. Fishmonger - Deptford, Nunhead, Dulwich, Pekcham

Jason WH Page said...

Hahah..

Jason WH Page said...

Pizza oven's coming to Honor Oak Park. Le Querce has fantastic pizza as well. ...and their basil ice cream is probably the best thing you'll ever put in your mouth. ..maybe.

Jason WH Page said...

Butcher= Peter James. Fishmonger - Deptford, Nunhead, Dulwich, Pekcham

Jason WH Page said...

Mr. Lawrence in Crofton Park.

Jason WH Page said...

Pizza oven's coming to Honor Oak Park. Le Querce has fantastic pizza as well

Jason WH Page said...

MoPho, Tickle Me, Brockley Rock, Mezze Mengal....

Jason WH Page said...

Hey El! I'll take that advice.

Fish finger said...

Yep but not in Brockley are they

BacktoBrock said...

I'm a cliché and proud I'm afraid. But clichés like me are slowly taking over the area so learn to live with us.

Jason WH Page said...

Close enough. Locally-owned business are dying fast. Get a bike. Take a bus. Walk. You'd be surprised how easy it is to get around, especially when it means supporting the businesses that already exist. it's 10 minutes max from Brockley.

Headhunter said...

I find it ironic that right across the UK including London people are increasingly turning their backs on chain shops, cafes and restaurants yet here in Brockley people are begging Starbucks, Waitrose, Pizza Express and Nando's to open up. I haven't particularly got anything against those places but can't we be a little bit more inventive? There's nothing more depressing than identikit high street shops the same in every village, town and city up and down the UK.... If we have to have another cafe at least let it be something independent and slightly more interesting than yet-another-bloody-Starbucks...

Crofty said...

Mr Lawrence's wine shop closed in December 2012 - only the bar survives. Yes you can order online and pick up your order from the bar, but not the same as having a proper wine shop.

jwhpage said...

Can't have everything...where would you put it?
Seriously, as a regular supporter of Mr Lawrence, I was disappointed by this. However, you CAN still order through the bar and with a little planning, we can all help keep it going. Or, we can push to make the same mistake - open something new that we won't fully support and watch it fail. Glass half full with a shot or reality and historical memory.

BrockleyBurgher said...

Greggs, 'always fresh always tasty'.

MJS said...

Yeah, but the thread is about opening a business in Brockley. Peter James is excellent although only open a few days a week i believe

jwhpage said...

If we live our lives by political boundaries we won't get anywhere. A little planning (and a bike or a nice brisk walk) go a long way. Crofton Park is just up the road. Peter James is a locally owned business that has been in the area since before most of us were alive. Or, we can just expect everything comes to our doorstep. You'll be left with Waitrose, Nando's and McDonalds. Just a thought. We Crofton Park residents traipse to Brockley. Brockleyites could come down and see us. We've got loads to offer. Just a short busride/walk/bikeride away.

Ugh said...

How ironic, it sounds like you're talking about cancer. No idea why you should feel so proud to actively want the boring, mundane and vapid to colonise the area, being that it's so commonplace everywhere else. Christ no wonder so many people are on anti-depressants. Why did you even move here? How about you learn to live with us.

MJS said...

but this isn't about political boundaries or the merits of walking, cycling or using public transport. Its about someone opening a new business in the Brockley area, the viability of this as a venture and its usefulness to the *local* community. We love in Zone 2 in London - pretty much everything is within 30 mins if you want it...

jwhpage said...

Definitely not the same. However, I'll support Mr Lawrence if it means keeping him open and preventing a Majestic or someone else from coming in and taking his business.

nat said...

A good cobbler

billy said...

Hi Everyone,
Just wanted to say thanks for all your comments. It’s obvious there is a big demand for more businesses in the area judging by the amount of comments posted in such a short space of time. Seeing such a positive response definitely gives me (and hopefully others) the confidence in opening up a new business in the area.

Thanks again and will keep you posted!
Billy

brockley man said...

I moved here to live mortgage free. Bought my house with cash from selling my North London home. Now u have to live with me!

Fish finger said...

Your argument against more variety in Brockey is that other high streets have various shops we'd like scattered around. Not everyone wants to walk miles after they get off the train from work to get some meat fish and wine......

Bricklay clearly has the capacity for better shops.

Fish finger said...

#Brockey even although I hear Bricklay is lovely

Jason WH Page said...

I agree. You're correct. It's a struggle sometimes after work to get food. Many lessons learned on that front. We've learned to plan better. But we still love living here. Yes, there are certain things I wish we had. But water seeks it's own level. Brockley's got it's own pace of growth, just like everywhere else. However, i'd rather travel a bit more, plan ahead and support the good businesses we have rather than shop at some of the places people are hoping to bring to the neighbourhood.

froggie506 said...

A fabulous bar/restaurant please! The Gantry is fantastic and so popular now that you can't get in for a spontaneous drink of a weekend- there's obviously the demand for another great bar that serves great food and drink and stays open late!
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE NOT A HORRID, CORPORATE CHAIN!!!!
What we love about Brockley is the villagey feel/ it's local and neighbourly- local businesses should be encouraged and invited to thrive!

Backtoreality said...

Yuck, what a horrible horrible sentiment.
You give us pram pushers a bad rep.

Yawn said...

Lucky us.

brockley man said...

No, I'm the lucky one. No need to work now!

Vikki said...

I'm amazed by the short sightedness of many of these posts. I would have thought we would want to keep Brockley special and retain it's independent character. I say no to chains! Yes to more services, I would love to see a proper cobbler and a dry cleaner that is open past 7 on a week nigh and all day on a Saturday. I share the views of the (sensible) posts below calling for a deli, butcher or fishmonger.

Brockley Nick said...

What do you think the best high streets in London are? Marylebone?Stoke Newington Church Street? They've got chains and independents. It's not either / or. Bars / restaurants / cafes would make the biggest difference.

Hmm said...

I'd rather walk out of the station and have decent shops on the high street there but each to their own...

Hmm said...

You forgot candlestick maker.

There are plenty of independent shops in Brockley and many of them suck so not sure about the hostility to chains.

Jason WH Page said...

Hmm, me too. But we've all chosen to live in Brockley, innit. Love it or...

Jason WH Page said...

I've been called worse. I love my neighbourhood. And I guess I got a bit defensive at some of the suggestions that don't really match what we have in Brockley and surrounding areas. I hate seeing small businesses fail - like El's, Mr Lawrence and others. Didn't mean to offend. No fixie, for me, thanks. But I'll watch. Give me a month or two, I might even grow a beard. BTW, "best troll"? Have you seen some of the comments over the passed few years?? Peace.

Stewie Griffin said...

You will not think yourself so lucky when you discover all the places to go out locally in Brockley are the preserve of nursing mothers and babies.

Vikki said...

I think we need to be incredibly careful, opening to door to
chains will put considerable pressure on the existing businesses, they end up pricing them out of the market, I’ve seen it happen where I grew up in Chiswick. Secondly, I can go to a Pizza Express or Starbucks anywhere, it's boring and mediocre – I agree we need more bars and restaurants too, but we should be encouraging something more interesting like a Homeslice style pizzeria. And thirdly, we all handover so much of our disposable income to large public or PE backed companies, is it wrong to want to spend money somewhere that will benefit a local individual?

And above and beyond all of the above, I would like to have
the convenience of having my shoes mended close to home and not having to cart them in to the office, it is a gap in the market. So my top vote remains cobbler.

anonymous said...

If you want a proper greengrocers, get yourselves down to the Allotment on New cross road. It's not that far from Brockley. In fact I walked it last night in about 12 minutes. The stuff in there is amazing. In fact it's much more than a greengrocers.

Jane said...

We've got a great butcher called Peter James in Ewhurst Road. Didn't you know?

Monkeyboy said...

I do, it's great. I want one closer, brockley market has two great stalls which is also more convenient. I think there would be enough demand for another in the heart of brockley. It's a specialist skill though so not something anyone could start.

Phil said...

A better idea might be to ask current small business owners with a track record in the area to offer ideas in a more closed environment. What people want and what will work are quite different.

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