Holloway fabric shop rolls up after 30 years

Owner warns of a high street of pawnbrokers and bookmakers unless there is more support

Friday, 1st April — By Anna Lamche

Christopher Hooper at Rolls and Rems

Christopher Hooper is retiring after 25 years at the Seven Sisters Road shop

THE owner of a fabric shop which is closing its doors after three decades has a parting plea to the Town Hall to support Holloway more.

Rolls and Rems in Seven Sisters Road will be shutting up shop in May.

Christopher Hooper, 57, is retiring after 25 years at the shop and said: “The area has completely changed – it’s got a bit more scruffy. What’s sad is a lot of the nicer shops that were here have gone.

“I think in the last five years it’s slightly deteriorated. It’s not a bad area. I just think it needs some more money pumped into the area to upgrade it a little if I’m honest.

“You get a lot of other areas in London where they seem to be doing improvements, but I don’t think they’re improving Holloway very much.”

He added: “I think they should support Holloway more. All brand-name shops like your River Island and your Marks and Spencer have gone.

“Now every other shop seems like some kind of pound shop, charity shop, eatery or gambling – and there are lots of pawn shops.”

Mr Hooper said people can tell a lot about an area based on its high street shops. “It makes you think: what does that say about the community?” he said. “But I can’t change the world – that’s not up to me, that’s up to the council. And I think the council should inject some more money into things and help the people a little bit.”

Rolls and Rems, which closes in May

Despite this reflection, Mr Hooper said Holloway still has “lovely things” like the Old Fire Station community centre which offers reduced price sewing classes.

“There are good elements, I just don’t think there’s enough,” he said.

After Mr Hooper closes his shop, he plans on “having a little rest.”

He said his decision was “mainly retirement – but it’s also the climate: Brexit, import charges, cost of living.”

Importing fabrics from Europe, China, India and elsewhere, Mr Hooper said he has seen prices triple over the past few years.

“We had a lot of silks that retailed at about £16 for a metre two or three years ago,” he said.

“To buy in that same silk will retail at £70 now. It’s not going up a little bit – it’s going up a lot.

As people face un­prece­dented bill hikes, Mr Hooper said he feels “non-essential” shops will be some of the first casualties.

“Everything’s going up, especially with fuel, food and everything else. And that has a knock-on effect for everything else,” he said. “If bills are going up, [our customers] are not going to be able to buy other things. That’s going to hit a lot of shops. Food and bills are necessities. A piece of fabric to make a dress is not.”

Based in Seven Sisters Road for so long, Mr Hooper says he has “met some characters and a half – and some of them are quite fab. I’ll miss a lot of them.”

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “We believe Nags Head is an attractive shopping destination, drawing visitors from far and wide with its mix of smaller, independent traders and larger ‘anchor’ stores including Morrisons, Selbys, Boots, Waitrose and Argos. It has recently attracted two more important large chains in B&Q and Lidl.

“We are conscious that wider national changes in shopping habits have affected high streets and like all our town centres, we have a dedicated team working to improve Nags Head for both businesses and shoppers. The team is currently facilitating workshops to draw up an improvement plan as part of our Business Recovery Programme.

“We are sad to see any trader close down, and will make contact with the owners once again to see if there is any assistance or advice we can offer that may help.”

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