‘Important shops like mine will fall by the wayside… it’s got worse and worse’

Fruit & veg trader is latest Seven Sisters Road business to close

Friday, 8th April — By Anna Lamche

Michael Economou IMG_8773

Michael Economou preparing to close his fruit & veg shop in Seven Sisters Road after 32 years

A FRUIT & veg trader is selling up after more than three decades, warning the rising costs of running an independent business will force shops to close.

Michael Economou, 62, owner of Michael’s Fruiterers in Seven Sisters Road, sold his last potato on Tuesday – marking the end of 32 years in the street.

“I’ve had such an emotional morning,” he said. “My customers have come up, they bought us flowers, they bought us plants, they bought us homemade jams. It was very moving, very emotional, they’re all devastated.”

Mr Economou said he needed “a big rest first of all” after working long hours to keep the shop open for so long during challenging times.

Recent price rises had made it tough to continue, he said, adding: “Normally at this time of year, a box of tomatoes would be anything between £2.50 to £4.50 depending on the quality and variety.

“Yesterday, when I went to the market, I had to pay £14.50 for [the same] box.”

Mr Economou’s final day came a week after the Tribune reported the long-running fabric shop, Rolls and Rems, is due to close after a similarly long time in the shopping street in Holloway.

He said: “The question is, how do you begin to survive? Closing has been on my mind since Covid and onwards.

“It’s just got worse and worse and I can’t see the prices getting any better – just think of the electricity hike.

“Shops like this will just fall by the wayside, but independent businesses and small shops like mine are very, very important.”

For Mr Economou, small food shops challenge the monopoly of the supermarkets and offer consumers access to better quality fruit and veg.

“You’re not going to get a Jamaican sweet potato – you’re not going to get a Ugandan or Brazilian or Spanish or American sweet potato – in Waitrose or Marks and Sparks,” he said.

Mr Economou, who has lived in Islington since he was three years old, said that over the years he has watched Seven Sisters go from “a very affluent road to nothing but bookies and pound shops”.

And he has joined calls for more investment into Holloway to “rejuvenate the area.” He said: “They started [work] in Highbury Corner and Upper Street, and they’ve done wonders down there, but it seems to stay just down there.

“I don’t think it’s in the council’s hands as such – I’m sure if the council had plenty of money they would definitely rejuvenate the area.”

Mr Economou added: “If I picture the future in the back of my head, it isn’t going to get any better. I feel very sad and a little bit bitter that it’s gone this way.”

Nevertheless, the trader said he has “many, many fond memories” of his time along Seven Sisters Road and said he would like to thank all his customers for their support over all these years.

The shop has been sold to new trader Yamal Yilmaz, and will remain open under new management. Mr Yilmaz will rename the shop Rio’s following a refurb in the next few months.

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