Balham high street: keep on shopping

Bonmarche closes next week, Lucas Bond closes next month. It’s not the best start to the year for Balham’s high street, that’s for sure. Shops come and go, that’s something to accept, but it’s what replaces them that is key to the make up of the main road.

Dare we say it, but Balham’s high street is losing some lustre. The last two high profile shop closures (M&S Simply Food and Woolworths) have seen bargain shops take up residence in their place. We’ve argued before that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with these shops, but when the high street is small enough as it is, we need as much variety as possible.

We would argue that Bonmarche wasn’t the best clothing shop for Balham anyway; a teensy bit dowdy where mid-length skirts are de rigour instead of a seasonal trend. What’s bound to replace it? We’re hoping another clothes shop to balance out the homeware and food shops, rather than compete against them.
One trend we’re noticing is organisations hiring space for afternoons, rather than renting out space. Pubs with the space to allow it are showcasing vintage fairs, car parks have markets and community spaces hold all manner of events. Where rents are increasing, these spaces give an opportunity to those who want to trade without the huge expense of a shop floor.

Whatever happens, the message is clear. We need to keep spending locally. This post isn’t meant to be preachy, but just voicing concern. Besides, there’s still plenty in Balham to get very excited about…
Let us know your thoughts about the state of Balham’s high street by leaving a comment below, and what you’d like to replace Bonmarche.

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14 thoughts on “Balham high street: keep on shopping

  1. As you say, let’s hope for a nice clothes retailer or something quirky and different that will prove to be a destination store and bring people from outside Balham to the high road. Please, no more amusement arcades, coffee shops full of yummy mummies with turbo-charged buggies carrying screaming brats – and, pretty please, no more hairdressers! There are already what seems like hundreds and Headmasters are opening in the spring!

  2. Agreed. High streets throughout the country are in a mess at the moment so it’s understandable shops are closing but letting the wrong thing replace them could only hasten the decline.

    As mentioned above, I think Balham’s good for hairdressers. And estate agents, there’s copious amounts. Part of me would like to see another bar open as the ones in Balham (as across London) get very busy. But they’re not really in the right place. Anything too niche and boutique may not benefit enough people so it may have to be from a chain to survive.

    Just stop with the pound stores.

  3. No more shops selling ‘bits’ ie frames, candles, cards and quirky wall signs. No more pound shops. No more budget, poor quality clothes. What about a vintage shop or dress agency that give you half the profit on selling unwanted but good quality clothes?

  4. Hello All- Kim Sullivan here the Balham Town Centre Manager. Just a note to let you know that the landlord of 172-174 Balham High Road (currently Bon Marche and the ex M&S site) has submitted a planning application (application number 2011/0289) to create one large retail space with 9 flats above. The landlord already has a large national retailer (not a supermarket) very interested in the site. Also re Lucas Bond Sally Trevaskis the owner decided to concentrate on the online business as she has moved to Sussex. The site is already under offer by an existing Balham business who are looking for another property in Balham. Also you may be interested to know that we have just secured £1.9 million to improve Balham over the next 2 years http://www.balham.com/blog/?p=1209.

    • Zara, don’t know if you know but a vintage shop has just opened on the High Rd. ‘Annie in the Attic’ is upstairs, doorway near Foxtons.

      Think they’re something to do with the vinage fair that’s been using temporary space in the Bowls Club as the article mentions.

      Ian, I’m beginning to think if we lined up every comment you’ve made on every Balham forum about yummy mummies and their buggies they would stretch to thr moon and back. I may alert the British Space Agency to see if it’s any use to them as a resource.

    • Dear Kim,

      Any chance of encouraging more “cafe life” on Hildreth Street? It could be like Venn Street in Clapham if there were a couple of restaurants with outside seating. That would be really lovely and attract people to the area.

  5. Yes, Ian really is so negative and there isn’t a website where he doesn’t make derogatory comments against some community or another within Balham. I’d hate to be his neighbour, it must be like living next door to Victor Meldrew !

    • I’m nothing like Victor at all – far grumpier! 😉 Don’t get the wrong impression, I’m actually a really nice bloke. It’s just that the buggy-mums seem to have taken over the area, marching three abreast down the High Road and heaven help you if you get in their way. They seem to think they have a divine right to run roughshod over everyone just because they have procreated. And what are the other communities I am supposed to be having a go at? I did once say I thought there were too many hairdressers here – but you can’t say that’s not true! 🙂

      • Ian, I’m quite sure you are a nice bloke really. And if only everyone took as much of an interest in their area as you do and engaged on local forums as often.

        And yes, large groups of mums with prams/buggies, especially in the daytime, can be a bit much. And they’re well enough catered for in the area now.

        But I think your nice blokeness might come across a lot better if you didn’t so repeatedly and with such unerring predictability raise the issue using phrases like “yummy mummies” “divine right” “turbo-charged buggies” and, my personal favourite “screaming brats”.

        Parents with well-behaved children, or parents who do try not to get in others’ way too much even though they’re carting a massive buggy around town, probably don’t find this especially likeable.

      • I’m sure your children are immaculately behaved, Matt, as are many of my friends’ kids and grandchildren.

        I apologise if you find my unerring predictability so annoying but I know what I want to say and I try to put it over in the most entertaining way that I can – I write for a living. I often feel like being a lot more scathing but resist the temptation.

        That said, I (and I assure you I am not the only one who feels this way) have watched the area be invaded by people who allow their kids to run riot in public places, especially bars, restaurants and cafes. We are forced to put up with these parents’ selfishness and couldn’t-care-less attitude, and sometimes we just feel we have to have our say. I’m sure that, like you, everyone here has beautifully behaved, quiet and respectful children, but that is not the case everywhere – and I for one will not just sit back and take one for the team.

        At my age, I reckon I deserve somewhere I can go in my own town for a coffee, a snack or a beer without having other people’s kids invade my space. A while ago, me, my wife and two friends were driven out of a local bar by the racket caused by a bunch of kids who were running riot, totally ignored by their parents who were engrossed in the Sunday papers – and by the staff, who presumably didn’t want to lose the income! Luckily there is, at last, one coffee shop and also two pubs which are havens, even at lunchtime, for me and my ilk.

        I think we’ve pretty much taken this discussion as far as it can go. Apologies once again to anyone I’ve upset, but I hope some of you can understand how people like us feel. I realise that no amount of ranting and raving, especially that which is unerringly predictable, is going to do any good in the long run – but we all have to vent now and again! I’ll take care to do it elsewhere in future! 😉

  6. Pingback: Balham high street: updated « SwishJunction

  7. As a slightly spooky addendum to my post above, I’ve just read a tweet from someone in a restaurant in Balham which reads: “Parents of Balham! Think about the diners who weren’t involved in your decision to have kids before bringing your 2 week old to dinner @ 9pm”

    Email me direct if you don’t believe me and I’ll give you his @name so you can follow him!

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