Friday, 5 February 2016

Brave Girl

"A nation of shopkeepers" is a quote usually attributed to Napoleon. Whether he said it or not, it was surely not meant as a compliment. Liz Perridge's family, however, are hugely proud of their history of shopkeeping. At the back of Liz's tiny shop, surely the smallest on the Triangle, is a little gallery of old sepia images of her grandparents and great-grandparents standing proudly outside their various premises, which dotted the area around Upper Norwood. They ran a successful chain of fish shops, selling both wet fish by day, and fish and chips in the evenings. Her parents, now retired, chose other professions, but her Dad now helps out on Saturdays in the shop, where he is known as Brave Dad.

Born in Auckland Road, Liz has always stayed close to her roots, and now shares a flat with her sister just off the Triangle. She studied footwear design at London College of Fashion, following a passion for shoes that she'd had since childhood, when she dreamed of opening a shoe shop. During her course, she did a one year placement at the National Theatre, which lead to her working as a theatre dresser, which she still does part time to this day. Currently she's working on the musical, Wicked. 
The childhood dream of having her own shop remained, but had always appeared too elusive, without substantial financial backing to get started. But then on a trip to the US a few years ago, she was inspired by the independent shops she saw in Brooklyn, many of which were pop-ups, an idea which wasn't common his side of the Atlantic back then. And so in September 2012, she followed her dream, and bravely opened her little shop. In reality it's half a shop, carved out of the kebab shop next door, but that suited Liz perfectly, taking her first small steps into business. The store is a happy mix of affordable things for the home, gift ideas, handmade jewellery, cards and novelty items. Liz buys on the basis that if she likes it, and would have it at home, then it will probably sell. While some is bought through larger wholesalers, she is also keen to support local and independent artists and makers. I spot a couple of Matt Bannister's marvellous dinosaur prints, and Beth Mander's ceramic bunting for example. And the support works both ways, with Liz having a very loyal band of customers. Though I've said it many times before on this blog, it's that sort of feeling which makes Crystal Palace the strong community that it is. Liz puts it down to being on top of a hill. "We're like an island community up here", she says, and adds that because the station is so far down the hill, it's a bit of an schlepp to come and go, while it possibly also serves as a bit of a deterrent to some outsiders, hence cutting us off slighting from the swirling city below. But then, as I've found, after 10 years in SE19, why would you ever want to leave? We have everything here, and Liz chips in, "we've got dinosaurs in the park, and you can see St.Paul's for God's sake!" Our conversation is punctuated by repeated hooting at the traffic lights outside, which is possibly the only fly in the local ointment as far as Liz is concerned.
As with many small businesses of this type, I imagine January and February must be pretty bleak after the Christmas excess, so do remember, particularly with Valentine's Day coming up, that local shops aren't just for Christmas. Our high streets would be much duller without the Brave Girls of this world such as Liz.




Brave Girl herself, Liz Perridge
86a Westow Hill
07460 233060

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

2015 Extra

It's been suggested to me more than once, that I will surely run out of subject matter for this blog. However if the last year is anything to go by, I need not worry about a shortage of material. I would say there were more changes to the Triangle, both openings and closings, in 2015, than in the preceding 4 years that this blog has been going. And 2016 looks like being another busy year. I'm sure I will struggle to keep up.
Last year we said farewell to Popiel, Casa Cuba, Betty's, Violet Betty's, and Et Pourquoi Pas. Disappointingly we also lost the Butcher and Fishmonger on Church Road, which I'd never even got round to featuring on the blog. One bank also closed its doors, to be followed in the next few weeks by the other. On the plus side, there have been plenty of new arrivals, including 400 Rabbits, The Roasted Bean, Flaming Nora, a couple of fabrics and interiors shops, a green grocer, and the painting and decorating shop, Rafael Gabriel.
Meanwhile Papagaio has moved around the corner to new premises on Westow Street, and a couple of established local businesses have had a revamp. I was asked by both to come and take new pictures.

Do South relaunched with a smart new exterior and branding, new cash desk, and product ranges. 

Heather at No.47 Westow Street, has renamed her salon/boutique, Backstage, and given it a sleek new look.

And finally, the ever successful twins, Laura and Jess, opened their biggest venture yet, with their first outlet on the Triangle, in what had previously been Casa Cuba.

Wishing you all a happy & prosperous 2016!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas Windows

"Christmas gets earlier and earlier every year" is an oft repeated refrain, and it's true that many of the big stores start displaying seasonal stock while British Summer Time is still in full swing. The Christmas lights and windows usually make an appearance as soon as the last pumpkin has been ushered out, so in the early days of December, I was beginning to wonder if Christmas was coming to the Palace at all. Windows were looking decidedly unseasonal, and I was beginning to doubt my plan to blog about festive fenestration! But then, all of a sudden the Christmas fairy swooped and scattered glitter all around. And actually that's just how it should be, rather than being jaded by months of commercial bombardment, a fortnight or so of baubles and glitter is just enough to get you in the mood. So one evening last week, I went window shopping around the Triangle. Here is what I saw, starting on Church Road, heading clockwise…

The Crystal Palace Market

D Solo's 

 Christmas trees for sale next to Bambino

Finlay's Bureau of Investigation


 The Alma

The White Hart

 Vintage Hart

Around the corner into Westow Street

Urban Orient

Simon Carter

Blackbird Bakery

Love Bridal



Crystal Palace Vintage

South of the River

Bookseller Crow, with dinosaur illustrations by David Vallade

Merlin Shoes, with Subway illustration, also by David Vallade.

Smash Bang Wallop


Hollybush Stores

Mind, Enterprise Shop

in a space gallery


Do South, window art by Sarah Campbell

And turning the corner into Westow Hill

The Sparrowhawk

Crystal Eye Centre

Good Taste

Upper Norwood Public Library

Royal Albert

Palace Hardware


Plumbase, it's a Christmas institution

Ponte Nuovo

Pizza at the Palace

Cocktail Embassy


Nipping round the corner to Crystal Palace Parade…

Doris Florist

Before finally settling down for a cosy evening at, 

Westow House