Live local, shop local

Mary Portas talks local loyalty

One of my favourite movie moments about London is the “four seasons walk” Hugh Grant takes through Portobello Road as he tries to forget Julia Roberts in the movie Notting Hill.

Mary Portas and local Primrose Hill traders
Mary Portas and local Primrose Hill traders

Starting in summer and going all the way through to the following summer in one long take, it’s classic Richard Curtis. Hugh nods to the jolly cockney fruit and veg stall holder as he walks past children throwing snowballs; charming and it’s only a cliché because all of us would like a similar belonging; that sense of collective experience, shared understanding and common interest.

We are so lucky to live on the side of this flowery hill – all 256 feet of it.

In its not very long shadow, I feel such a strong sense of togetherness and community. And that often comes from us getting to know each by buying a newspaper, grabbing a coffee, stopping off to pick up a bottle of wine on our way home, or simply nodding to other dog owners you meet on the way to the hill.

The anchors of our village are the local businesses in all of their eclectic variety. They are such a big part of why we love it here, so let’s give them a treat. With that in mind I have a Christmas wish. Or rather, an idea for a present.

How about we all set ourselves a target of spending half of whatever we spend on Christmas this year, in our local Primrose Hill businesses?

I don’t think that’s very difficult, on Gloucester Avenue, Chalcot Road, Regents Park Road, Princess Road and Erskine Road we have fantastic businesses run by brilliant people. I started thinking about buying for my mixed bag of an extended family and I reckon we could do it. Apart from a good choice in menswear (although some great pieces at my Living & Giving shop) we’ve got it covered from books, jewellery, lingerie, gifts, toys, hair, beauty, flowers, home, yoga and well-being, shoes, fashion, pets, food, wine, and now even our very own butcher to order our turkey or goose.

I would also love the businesses to have the best Christmas trading yet as behind the scenes there’s been a small team of people who give up endless amounts of their personal time thinking up ideas, events, promotions, chasing landlords who leave shops empty, campaigning, pooling resources and even making complete fools of themselves by dressing up as cartoon characters to keep our shopping hub going.

It would make them smile to know it’s been worth it. And this year they have made it even better for you. We now have our own loyalty card PHD (Primrose Hill Deals). Just pick one up free of charge from any of the shops taking part, and you will have offers, discounts, promotions or whatever your kindly shopkeeper decides to do to keep you coming back and shopping local.

At a time when we are disillusioned and distrusting of the big corporate businesses who don’t care about community, let’s do as one of the desperate high streets I visited in Greater Manchester wrote on a poster, sadly too late and plastered over many empty shops.


Happy Christmas shopping.
I hope to bump into you along the way

Mary Portas, November 2014

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