CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Closing down: Blustons, the iconic clothes shop that people loved to walk past

'1,000 people come in that first week and congratulated us for re-opening shop - but literally none of them came back and bought anything'

09 March, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

THE shopfront is a landmark – a listed facade with a celebrated and respected name.

But the great affection that Kentish Town Road shop Blustons holds in people’s hearts has not been enough to save it from closure at the end of the month.

The clothing company, once run by Jane and Samuel Bluston, was set up in the 1930s. But when the family retired in 2014, the shop lay empty for nearly two years.

Then clothes retailer Zeynal Cakallik stepped in last year – and it seemed the rebirth of the high street institution was secure. But despite being welcomed by people in NW5, their good wishes haven’t translated into ringing tills.

One staff member, who did not wish to be named, said the shop was a “beautiful place to work” but that made no difference to its success.

“When we reopened Blustons, we must have had 1,000 people come in that first week and congratulate us and say how pleased they were,” the staff member said.

“But literally none of them came back and bought anything. The simple fact is you need people to support your business by becoming customers.”

The New Journal has learned that the shop’s annual rent bill was £40,000, with rates at £20,000 – a figure described as “doable” by staff – if they had the customers.

The staff member added: “We have good stock, good-quality clothing. I know from experience, if we were selling this at a market we’d definitely be taking £300 a day. But here, some days we have taken £10, sometimes nothing at all.”

Caroline Hill, of Kentish Town Road Action pressure group, which seeks to protect independent businesses, said she was sorry to see Blustons close again but believed that with the right management the shop could be a success.

She said: “Whoever takes it over needs to do some research into what people want. The sort of clothes they were selling were not quite right for Kentish Town. Many people I know did not buy things there. I hope someone has a go at making a success of it.”

She added: “Blustons worked well for many years – it was a success in the past and there is no reason it can’t be again.”

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