Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Rafael Gabriel

It may sound obvious, but so often the secret of success for a business, is finding a gap in the market, which is exactly what Rafael did back in 2014. He had been working as a builder and decorator, based not far from the Triangle, and was frustrated by his inability to buy a pot of paint locally. He also realised that the big DIY retailers, despite their size, or maybe because of it, didn't really provide a very good service. On top of that, he thought it would make sense to run a business where someone could pop in for that pot of paint, but then also get a quote for someone to actually do the decorating, or install the windows, or do the plumbing!
And the plan seems to have worked. In addition to 3 members of staff in the shop, he has 10 sub contractors working on jobs for him. He actually has to turn work down, as he doesn't want to compromise quality. Word of mouth counts for so much in the building trade, so you are only as good as your last job. Recently, we were looking for someone to install secondary glazing in our flat, and windows being Rafael's speciality, his name popped up more than once in local recommendations. I'm pleased to say we are very happy with the results!
Rafael followed in his father's painting and decorating footsteps back home in Poland, before heading to London in 2003. A few years later he moved to West Norwood, where he got lots of work via local estate agents. At weekends he and his family would come up to Crystal Palace for the shopping or a walk in the park, and was instantly captured by the sense of community here, plus it had a Polish deli, so very soon they made their home here. Despite his enthusiasm for the area, the one negative note is that sadly his van has been broken into 4 times in the last couple of years, though not always locally. This problem is of course widespread, but his understandable frustration is not just that this happens, but that there appears to be no attempt by the police to do anything about it, and their lack of visibility making it all the more likely it will happen again.
This is a thriving modern business, but walking into the shop on Church Road, always makes me think of an old fashioned hardware store, with its goods stacked way up to the ceiling. With the bell on the desk, you almost imagine you could summon Ronnie Barker from behind the paint pots. We've lost so many 'old fashioned' shops, so it's good to see this little local revival on Church Road.

Rafael Gabriel

36 Church Road

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