Kim manages the Cancer Research shop in Chingford.
Why would you encourage people to shop local / why is shopping local important?
Shopping local is about more than where you spend your money. Visiting high streets is about interacting with the local area. It creates atmosphere and a buzz where people of different ages and backgrounds cross paths, meet people and feel a sense of community. My mum’s from Chingford, so for me it’s very much about family too.
Why are local customers so important for your business?
On a local level, we rely not just on the kindness of residents to donate to our shop, but also their footfall to buy local to support the store.
Where is your favourite part of the borough to hang out?
Ridgeway Park: it’s open and I’ve always enjoyed an outdoor gym!
Where do you shop locally and where would you recommend?
I can’t recommend Cafe La Rocca enough. Not only is their food lovely but the customer service from the girls who run the place is lovely. They’re a neighbouring shop to mine and a proper neighbour too. They accept and keep my parcels safe when I’m not there. When I had to close the shop during COVID, they kept an eye on it and let me know that there were no issues when I wasn’t able to visit it myself.
Do you live in the borough and if so for how long have you been here?
I was born in Brighton. My mum lives in Chingford and I live in Epping. I have been in the store for four or five years and have worked for Cancer Research UK for 15 years.
Why did you decide to come to Waltham Forest?
I came here 4/5 years ago because my mum had breast cancer.
How would you describe Waltham Forest?
I used to live in Chingford with my mum who has lived here for 40 years. The high street has changed. There is often no reason to come to the high street. Even over the past year we’ve run into significant difficulty – I’m not sure why. With some businesses closing down, that affects everyone. There are food shops, restaurants but little else.
How has the business grown since you were established?
It has changed. We’re facing increasing headwinds. That started at the beginning of January. I’ve no idea why it was back then, there were fewer people and fewer donations. We need to have good quality stock, priced correctly and it’s been challenging. Some people want to give you their rubbish.
What do you think makes your business stand out?
All of my stuff is ready for the summer, so we’re happy to be prepared to open to the public.
How many people do you employ and how many of your employees live locally?
We have volunteers but we’ve lost a lost of them because of the virus. They are elderly and don’t want to return, so we’ve lost a few volunteers through this. We’ll take on anybody aged 17+ who wants to help!
What does your business do to support the local community?
The shop is the cause in itself.
Have you noticed any changes in how consumers are shopping since COVID-19?
The main challenge is increasing confidence. I’ve changed my shop around, you come in and walk around in a circular way. We have a shield and I’ve been here since last week cleaning every part of the shop. We have three customers in at a time. We’ve got hand sanitiser set up at the doorway, a notice at the doorway, as well as t-shirts on the mannequins in the window saying, ‘you can shop safely here.’
What are your plans to grow and sustain your business over the next 12 months?
We already sell online what we can’t sell in the shop, but we’re just concentrating on getting customers back first.