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Pat’s News: The listening newsagents retire after 36 years

‘There are so many shops run by corporations, rather than families, that don’t know how to talk to people‘

07 August, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Suresh, Vidya and Misha get ready to say goodbye to Pat’s News

THE secret to success in business? Listening, according to a couple who are retiring after more than 30 years running a newsagent’s shop in Kentish Town.

Suresh Patel, 62, of Pat’s News in Kentish Town Road, said: “People would come in, stop for a chat, and then it would become a pattern, a routine – I listen, I offer advice.”

When one customer collapsed at home and later died, Mr Suresh said he “got the call from his sheltered housing manager to tell me”, adding: “So I called the man’s family in Jamaica to tell them. I organised the funeral and on the day, I was the only one who turned up.”

Mr Patel and his wife Vidya, 63, opened the shop in July 1983 and have worked together every day since, apart from Sundays when daughter Misha does a shift.

Misha, 31, said: “Everybody would pour their heart out to my dad. It’s because dad really listens. People always tell me ‘your parents are wonderful’.”

Customers have included All Saints singers Natalie and Nicole Appleton, and actor Damien Lewis.

Mr and Mrs Patel, Misha and her sister Pinal lived above the shop until 2013 when they moved to Edgware. The sisters went to Primrose Hill Primary School and Camden School for Girls.

“It was amazing,” said Misha. “All my friends would envy me because I had a shop and I had a way to get midnight feasts. A lot of my school friends still come now to see my parents. Moving to Edgware was a total change. Camden is so lively all the time. I feel very at home here. We all call it our home.”

She added: “As time has moved on, less people come to this area. It’s great that new buildings are being built but it is harder for small businesses like ours.”

Now, after their switch away from the area, Mr and Mrs Patel say they have decided to retire. Mr Patel said: “We leave the house at 6.15am, open at 7am and close at 7.30pm. We are not usually home until 8.45pm. We feel at the end of our day we are getting tired now. Our time has come.”

Vincent Quinn, who used to manage the pub on the corner pops in

When the New Journal visited last week, customers popped in to buy a few things and bid the couple farewell. Vincent Quinn, who managed the pub Quinn’s, two doors down, said: “This family are well liked in the community. Hopefully things will work out and they will have a pleasurable retirement.”

David Horn-Marquez, who has been shopping at Pat’s News for 16 years, said: “There are no shops like this anymore. There are so many shops run by corporations, rather than families, that don’t know how to talk to people. They [Pat’s News] will be missed. It is the end of an era.”

Margaret Aliprandi, who lives in Castlehaven Road, has been a customer at Pat’s News since she was a schoolgirl in the 1980s. She said: “My brother comes every morning and I come once a week. We are sad because we used to come and have a little talk when buying my lottery ticket and the newspaper.”

Pat’s News is closing on August 18.

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