Posts Tagged ‘North Laine’

Catastrophic collapse of retail in Brighton

July 22, 2019

North Laine in Brighton is always busy, no closed shops. Yes businesses close, but a steady turnover, not empty retail units.

Three weeks ago I was shocked at the number of empty retail premises. Two weeks later, ie a week ago, I was further shocked to find not only closed, but many more closing.

A week ago Vinyl Revolution celebrated two years in business by closing.

I paid a visit last week, unfortunately they were already closed.

I was shocked to find The Lanes far far worse than the North Laine in terms of retailers closed.

Duke Street where Vinyl Revolution was located nearly half the shops closed and boarded up, graffiti covered shutters, a sea of To Let Boards as look down the street.

I passed by a new retail development, a row of empty shops, not a single one let, and it is difficult to see they ever will be let when so much retail space sitting empty.

It is difficult to understand why Vinyl Revolution has closed, as their video describes a thriving business, which is why I wished to talk to them.

To blame Brexit is nonsense, equally to blame rail works.

Duke Street was the wrong location. Comments on Brighton Argus echo this.

I never visited therefore cannot comment on their stock, but comments on Brighton Argus describe the stock as crap.

Resident in North Laine an excellent music shop always busy and has in recent years expanded.

If I wanted second-hand vinyl I would visit Ben’s Records in Tunsgate in Guildford. Then pop next door to Krema for a coffee.

Not that I would wish to buy second-hand vinyl as rarely in pristine condition, no guarantee of the condition and highly unlikely to have been played on top end equipment, and equally unlikely anyone with top end equipment would part with their vinyl.

In Resident, new releases always displayed with a limited pressing high quality vinyl.

But even Ben’s Records is struggling.

It is not helped when Market Street and surrounding pedestrianised streets in The Lanes, that pedestrianised is ignored, vehicles parked, vehicles drive through using as short cut, Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs ride motor scooters through at speed weaving in and out of pedestrians.

Sat outside a coffee shop in The Lanes last week a Ford truck parked outside, engine running, whilst driver having a chat with a passer by.

I have more than once narrowly missed being run down by Uber Eats and Deliveroo serfs, usually learners displaying L plates. Are they insured to carry out business?

Deliveries to the area, and what I observed were not deliveries, should park outside the pedestrianised areas, deliver using hand cart or trolley. The norm in Europe. The Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs should be required to park in designated zones and walk through, walk through with crash helmets removed.

Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs should not only be fined for riding through a pedestrianised aream they should be charged with dangerous driving. Sooner or later a child or elderly person will be knocked down and seriously injured. Deliveroo and Uber Eats should terminate their contracts.

Reputable businesses should not be employing Deliveroo and Uber Eats. And it is not only the exploitation and less than minimum wage. If food is ordered to be delivered, it is killing footfall.

There needs to be enforcement by the City Council.

When retail collapse occurs it can happen very fast, as we are now seeing in North Laine and The Lanes. One retailer closes, one less reason to visit the area. At least 10% will always be on the edge, the small loss in footfall sufficient to push them over the edge. Now even less reason to visit. More retailers pushed over the edge.

Businesses I have talked to are worried. They say as businesses around them close, they become isolated, fewer people in the street. Others tell me it is now tough.

What can local government and national government do to support small business? These are the businesses that bring people in, who circulate money within the local economy, who provide local character, who provide a reason to visit Brighton.

Please sign and share the petition launched by Vinyl Revolution calling for government to act to support small retailers.

Why is Independent retail being left to die?

July 9, 2019

Our town centres are not dying, they are being destroyed. Destroyed by greedy landlords and profiteering developers, Big Businesses offshoring its money in tax havens, local Town Halls where corrupt planners are in the pocket of greedy developers and Big Business, where planners and councillors are clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning and how local economies function.

I love to visit Brighton.

Train to Gatwick, then to Brighton, but what a bloody pain when rail works, I have learnt do not even try.

When I arrive, I head straight down to the sea and walk along along the seafront, or head into North Laine and the seafront later. In the evening maybe take a walk along the Pier.

In North Laine, spoilt for choice. Excellent coffee shops, Coffee at 33, Pelicano, Dough Lover. Magazine Brighton where can pick up excellent magazines like Drift, Ambrosia, Standart. Infinity Foods or Hisbe for food supplies. Lunch at Iydea or Infinity Foods Kitchen. I always pop in Resident to see what is new.

What is great about North Laine, three long streets, little side streets, is that it is a Mecca of little shops, independent businesses. And not a corporate chain in sight

What though shocked me on a recent visit at the end of June, was the number of empty shops. I had not been in Brighton since last year, more than six months ago. Yes there has always been turnover, shops change, but not empty shops.

Earlier this year I was on a train from Lincoln to Nottingham in the company of three Dutch guys. They were heading to Nottingham for the football. Me, I was heading to some excellent coffee shops.

They asked me why all our towns were the same. The same crap corporate chains selling the same identical crap.

They told me that in Holland they had learnt. The corporate chains had gone, you can buy that crap on-line, to be replaced by individual local shops, coffee shops, little restaurants, in other words what makes North Laine so popular with visitors..

That is what I like in Europe, all the little shops, not corporate chains. Another big plus is that these areas are pedestrianised.

Why would anyone visit a town for the same crap chains that are in every other town?

Once I found myself in the Churchill Shopping Centre in Brighton. It was as though I had entered Dante’s Inferno, a retail version of hell, there should have been a big sign, Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.

In Nottingham, I find excellent little coffee shops, Cobden Chambers, a little courtyard through a gate, where is located a zero wast store, indie record shop, Ideas on Paper (Nottingham’s answer to Magazine Brighton).

It is down the little sideways and allies that we find the independent businesses.

In York the quaint side streets.

It is quirky indie businesses that give the sense of place, character, that recycle money within the local economy.

Corporate chains destroy our towns, they make everywhere look ugly, no character, drain money out of the local economy to offshore in a tax haven. Boots, Starbucks, avoid tax.

Government is at fault but indirectly in failing to deal with tax dodging and pushing austerity which has left people with no spending money.

Greedy rogue landlords are a major problem. They fail to honour their repair obligations, hike rents which do not reflect the prevailing retail environment. They would rather see an empty shop and offset against tax than lower the rent.

In Winchester an excellent coffee shop Flat Whites has recently closed, landlord issues.

Where the fault lies is local Town Halls. Corrupt planners get into bed with greedy developers and Big Business, the planners are clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function.

Also to blame are local tourism bodies and business enterprise zones.

In Lincoln, Sincil Street, similar street scene to North Laine, ruins parallel to the High Street. Once a thriving street of indie businesses. Between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon the street was busy. Local Coop bought up the street, drove out the local businesses, brought in crap chains, the same crap chains can be found in every ghastly shopping centre across the country.

Visit Lincoln and Lincoln BIG then hyped these chains. Visit Lincoln even took them on board as partners. The head of Visit Lincoln bragged how she took a visitor to Lincoln to Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Castle and Cosy Club.  Cosy Club a chain of fake 1930s bars, so fake a Monty Python parody of fake.

Visit Guildford promotes corporate chains, as does Enterprise Guildford.

Visit Lincoln goes overboard to hype chains. When asked why were they promoting 200 Degrees a small coffee chain when Lincoln has two excellent independent coffee shops, the answer was if they pay us we will.

It is not only Vinyl Revolution who are suffering, small businesses across the land are struggling. Unlike corporate chains they care about the local community where they live and work, often they are the backbone, and yet, look at any so-called town centre regeneration, it will brag about the corporate chains that are being brought in, often with low rents and nearly always to the detriment of indie businesses who are driven to the margins, assuming not actually driven out of business, rarely if every get a  mention of the small businesses and where new retail development takes place it is ugly, it is filled with the same crap corporate chains as every other ugly retail development.

An example of this is the recently opened Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre in Guildford, a handful of chains, boarded-up retail units, the only time people are seen is when it is raining and it provides a convention shortcut between the High Street and Castle Street and that is despite being hyped by Visit Guildford and Experience Guildford.

Do not drink the disgusting coffee in  a corporate chain, find an indie coffee shop serving speciality coffee in glass or ceramic. Ask, and they will tell you other coffee shops to try. In Brighton it is even easier,  pick up a copy of The Independent Brighton & Hove Coffee Guide.

I would never dream of buying in HMV, and it was no great loss when it went into administration.

But if I find myself in Guildford, I pop into Ben’s Records. He knows his customers, what they like. But even a shop like Ben’s is suffering.

Several years ago I found Brighton Books open. I heard interesting music playing. I queried what it was. Try Resident, it is the only place you will find it. I looked and could not find. I asked, they went straight to where it was and handed me a copy.

Sadly Brighton Books is one of indie businesses that has recently closed in North Laine.

Please sign the petition launched by Vinyl Revolution calling for government to act to support small retailers.

Cappuccino at Blend & Brew

June 30, 2019

Blend and Brew used to have a tiny little coffee shop on a corner, more a counter than a coffee shop. Only once ever found open as not open on a Sunday, at I guess their clientele is commuters.

When I did find open, they were opening a coffee shop on the opposite corner. Corner coffee shop now open.

I was not going to have a coffee as their coffee crap, but thought ok I would try, maybe it has improved.

It is still crap, over-roasted cheap crap Italian coffee. Worse still, I was first served a cappuccino with chocolate, which I sent back.

Why does no one know how to serve a cappuccino?

I do not know which is worse, being served with chocolate or being asked if I want chocolate? At least the latter I do not have to send the coffee back. But I should not even be asked, cappuccino is not served with chocolate. It ruins a good coffee. Though for bad coffee it does at least take away the taste of the bad coffee.

I did not have to ask, I could tell from the taste, black over-roasted coffee beans.

A pity as they have done an excellent job on the coffee shop and the food and cakes looked good.

Staff pleasant and friendly.

I picked up latest copy of The Independent Brighton & Hove Coffee Guide which was useful as I could not find my copy. The number of coffee shops has doubled since the guide was published last year, though I would question the inclusion of some of the entries.

The coffee shop was empty. Maybe because Sunday they used to be closed or maybe because their coffee is crap and far better coffee at Coffee at 33 further down the street.

Vegan fundamentalists spread twisted lies targeting Hisbe yet again

January 23, 2019

It is a tragedy that vegan fundamentalists have once again targeted ethical food store Hisbe.

Several days ago vegan fundamentalists occupied Hisbe, harassing staff and customers. They were subsequently banned from the store.

Now, in what appears to be an act of desperation, they have resorted to spreading lies on social media to tarnish the reputation of Hisbe.

What they claim about a bloodied pig is very easily verified or shown to be untrue. All animals have to be tracked, as any reputable butcher will be able to confirm.

Hisbe

Your information is incorrect – our pork products come from pigs raised on a farm in Mayfield, and our pig farmer has not transported pigs to Tottingworth or anywhere else today.

No idea what farm this pig is from or what retailer buys their products.

We also don’t use the phrase “Ethical Meat”, never have.

Please stop twisting our messaging and spreading misinformation.

From where is the bloodied pig from, where is it headed, whence the final destination?

Easily checked as all animals have to be tracked.

But hey, who cares about facts when vegan fundamentalists waging a vendetta against Hisbe?

I would not disagree that RSPCA Red Tractor a marketing brand, nothing more and welfare standards should be much higher.

A bit like the FairTrade scam to make Middle Class feel good, a marketing exercise nothing more.

And yes we should be concerned about a bloodied pig, question the how and why. It may have simply caught its ear.

But none of this justifies criminal harassment of Hisbe.

Hisbe is setting the standards for ethical retailing, zero waste, partnerships with quality producers.

Once again is begs the question, why are these vegan fundamentalists not targeting McDonald’s, KFC, halal kebab outlets, anywhere that is using fast growth animals, reared in inhumane conditions?

Vegan quasi-religious fundamentalists target Hisbe

January 14, 2019

An act of unbelievable crass stupidity when vegan quasi-religious fundamentalists target Hisbe, an ethical food store.

Where next, Infinity Foods, a workers cooperative? Maybe not, Infinity Foods bake vegan cakes and where would we be without vegan cakes?

Maybe do something useful, target and shut down McDonald’s or a halal kebab shop.

Or try targeting M&S or Waitrose for wrapping fresh produce in plastic.

Lunch and cappuccino in Coffee at 33

November 25, 2018

On a cold misty mid-week in Brighton last week a little detour to Blend and Brew Brighton, then retrace my steps and down to the seafront.

It was then back to North Laine.

Infinity Foods Kitchen, I did not fancy, Iydea was not good either, and has not been good all year.

I looked in Magazine Brighton, then to Coffee at 33.

The filled rolls looked excellent, and as I was still hungry from my half eaten lunch at Iydea, it was a filled roll and a cappuccino.

Both were excellent.

My friend Georgia chose hot chocolate.

Coffee at 33 was where I would have eaten had I not walked down to and along the seafront.

Blend and Brew Brighton

November 21, 2018

An excursion from Brighton Station to Blend and Brew Brighton.

I have not found open on previous visits to Brighton. Barely little more than a kiosk.

Coffee not great, it was not worth the excursion.

They are going to move into opposite corner vacated by Trafalgar Books and open a coffee shop which will be open on weekends.

I assumed only open in the morning to catch commuters, but open until four o’clock.

Blend and Brew Brighton roast their own coffee in Italy which explains a lot as Italy infamous for bad coffee.

The row of syrups on the back wall says it all.

Featured in The Independent Brighton & Hove Coffee Guide.

Cappuccino Coffee at 33

November 5, 2018

A cappuccino in Coffee at 33.

Very busy lunchtime. Usually I visit towards the end of the day.

Excellent cappuccino.

Cappuccino at Pelicano

November 5, 2018

I look in Pelicano before late lunch at Iydea.

They have changed the frontage. And not for the better.

Too busy to stay.

I will save as last port of call before catching my train.

Now dark, no one about.

Excellent cappuccino and coffee cake. Too large a portion for one, sufficient for two people to share. They pop in a box for me to takeaway.

Black Mocha

August 19, 2017

Coffee shop in North Laine in Brighton.

I had noticed Black Mocha in North Laine on a previous visit to Brighton last year, a relatively newcomer to the Brighton coffee scene.

Chatting with a girl sat outside, I asked what was it like, she said good.

OK, I am on my way to Coffee at 33, maybe some other day.

OK, we will compare notes.

Passing by again, I was heading for the seafront, then changed my mind, as it was  a pleasant late afternoon, I decided I would stop and sit outside.

Black Mocha, which I had passed earlier, I tried a cappuccino. Not very good, not helped by chocolate dumped on top.

Staff very pleasant.

Interior pleasantly laid out.

I am not to sure of the ad hoc tampering of their espresso machine. The metal panels removed, replaced by glass, glass I am assured that  is shatter proof. Espresso machines have inside high pressure boilers.

Coffee from a local roastery, Cast Iron Coffee Roasters.

Black Mocha has potential, if employed skilled baristas.