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Rainham independent businesses: Rainham Village is ‘the jewel in the crown of Havering’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 November 2018

Shop Local Rainham. Lucy Swan of Village Blooms.

Shop Local Rainham. Lucy Swan of Village Blooms.

Archant

Walking past the shops in the historic Rainham Village area, you might almost forget that you’re in London.

Rainham Shop Local:Rainham Shop Local:

The area boasts various independent specialist shops and cafes, many of which were originally Georgian cottages and then transformed to shop frontages in the 20th century.

Councillor Jeffery Tucker, who runs the Rainham Goldmine Jewellers in Upminster Road South, and is also the chairman of the Rainham Village Shopkeeper Association, explained that these specialist services are one of the main attractions for residents and visitors to the area.

“We have great computer repair shops, plumbing, an army shop and a great shoe repair service,” said Cllr Tucker.

“If we can’t sustain our small shops then the big stores will take over, leaving the smaller shops to become residential properties and we will lose our village community.

Rainham Shop Local: Aaron and Christopher Hajaig of Aaron's Surplus Army & Navy Limited.Rainham Shop Local: Aaron and Christopher Hajaig of Aaron's Surplus Army & Navy Limited.

“We’re very fortunate to have a very close knit community as we’re one of the last remaining villages left in London.

“I always say that we’re the jewel in the crown of Havering.”

Kadir Tekagacka, manager at Fellas, the Turkish barbers, echoed Cllr Tucker’s statements, saying the area “has a real sense of community”.

“It’s going to cost people more to travel to central London, whereas we’re a lot closer,” said Kadir, speaking about why people should shop local this Christmas.

Rainham Shop Local:Rainham Shop Local:

Christopher Haig, 49, named his shop Aaron’s Surplus Army and Navy shop after his son and has been trading in Upminster Road South for eight years.

Originally from America, Christopher believes that small businesses are a big part of England’s cultural heritage.

“Small businesses are the backbone and one of the pillars of the economy in the UK – it’s very unique to this country,” he said.

“They’re part of a high street tradition which has existed for hundreds of years.

Rainham Shop Local: Aaron and Christopher Hajaig of Aaron's Surplus Army & Navy Limited.Rainham Shop Local: Aaron and Christopher Hajaig of Aaron's Surplus Army & Navy Limited.

“This isn’t corporate America, we’re all about small businesses being part of the high street here.”

A short walk away from Rainham Village is the large Tesco Extra in Bridge Road.

Christopher added: “Tesco does bring a lot of business to the area and the argument is that it should aid in the regeneration of small businesses in this area.

“If Tesco has everything – the bank, a shoe cobbler – then people are not going to shop here.

Shop Local Rainham. Lucy Swan of Village Blooms.Shop Local Rainham. Lucy Swan of Village Blooms.

“We need diversification but that requires government investment too.”

Christopher described his army shop as a “Ripley’s world of collectives”.

Like most of the independent business owners in Rainham, he is passionate about providing a unique shopping experience for his customers.

Lucy Swan, 34, owner of the Village Blooms flower shop in Upminster Road South, said there’s nothing like the face-to-face shopping experience you can get at your local florists as opposed to shopping online.

She told the Recorder: “[Buying flowers is] based on emotions. Whether it’s a wedding or a funeral, if you come here you can be confident everything will be done right.

“You won’t have the added stress of organising the right flowers when you’re trying to plan a funeral.

“There’s also a bit of a social element for the elderly, because instead of buying products on the internet, you’re forced to speak to someone face-to-face. I imagine that’s why the cafes are quite busy around here.”

It’s clear from speaking to shop owners that there’s a real sense of pride in developing the village.

Recently Rainham won the gold prize for the village category in the London in Bloom competition and hundreds of residents flocked to the streets for the Remembrance Sunday parade.

Rainham’s popular Christmas December Fayre is taking place on the same day as Small Business Saturday, December 1, from 10am - 4pm.

Shoppers will have plenty of treats to choose from at the festive stalls.

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