Local corner shops and traditional British high street shops, one of the most visible symbols of multiculturalism in the U.K., could be wiped out due to pricing strategies of big supermarkets chains and online shopping — resulting in the number of family ownership retail shops being heavily cut down.
Samuel Blustons was a specialist ladies tailor who emigrated in the U.K. from Russia around 1890 and started a ladies wear shop in Kentish Town with his wife, Jane Blustons, in 1931. “Blustons” will now close after Easter, making it the oldest family ownership retail shop set to shut down.
Michel Albert, 67, shop owner, said:” I have been here for 54 years, since I left school at 16. The shop has been here for 84 years and survived World War II.”
However, he wants a “different lifestyle” now. “My wife, Marilyn, and I are both healthy, and we want to retire. We want to see our grandchildren more, go to museums and other places or do some volunteer work. Unfortunately, my children are busy with their jobs, so they can’t run this shop.”
Albert said that he had a “tremendous response,” with many people calling, coming in to give them flowers, or crying because the shop is closing down.
One long-time customer, Re Lavinia, 92, said: “I am 92, and it’s nearly a lifetime here. I buy dresses, jackets, and cardigans. It’s a better shopping place for the older people — I like their style rather than that modern stuff that other shops have. I will certainly miss this place.”
He said he is grateful towards the community for their support through the years, but that, despite feeling “guilty” that they are closing and letting people down, “everything has to change.”
His wife Marilyn said: “It will be not easy to put the shutter down for the last time.”
The shop is up for sale or to rent, whosoever comes along,” Albert added. Being a grade II shop, though, front and windows can’t be changed.
There will be a little get together with some loyal customers, friends and family members on Sunday 12 April.
The closure remains still a big question mark on the future of family-owned small businesses and retail shops.