Once upon a time shops would look proud of themselves. Shop owners would stand outside of their shop with a look of pride on their faces. Goods would be beautifully displayed. Sign writers, sign makers and glass cutters (these were generally from the area, all had their own styles and would help give an area its own visual identity) would make the most humble of businesses beautiful.
These shops aren’t exclusive boutiques. They simply believed in enticing people into the shop by making their store as attractive as possible. They had pride in their appearance. Even a humble dairy or fruit and vegetable shop. They were beautiful.
Some shops were so proud of where they were, they put the name of the road on the shop. We did this with Billings. Most shops these days don’t even put the number on the shop front. We think they should by law.
Today Sydenham Road is pretty shabby. Compare the above with the same road today:
Much as we love Mustis above (which is what everyone calls the store) the signs hasn’t changed for years, it pre-dates the current owners (Musti is one of the friendliest shore owners in Sydenham). Garam Masala have put tiles more suited to a toilet on the outside which is totally out of keeping with the building.
Many people say this is a great dry cleaners. We use another one, despite this one being nearer to where we live. It just doesn’t look like it will do a good job. For months they actually had a mouldy wedding dress in the window and in 4 years they haven’t cleaned the tags off the roller shutters.
If you take over a business, invest in new signage. Spray painting over the old name is not going to win you any customers! It makes me question how they treat the food if they think this is acceptable.
The sign on the right broke one windy night over 2 years ago. They still haven’t fixed it. I’m not sure what that says about what they sell or customer service. To us it makes the shop look like it doesn’t care. It’s interesting historically though!
The sad fact is that it’s cheaper to repaint an original shop front than rip it out and install a new one. Quality signage and sign writing isn’t that expensive.
So shops in Sydenham currently look like this:
But what if:
Same shops, same shop fronts, same prices. Just new signage, awnings and a bit of paint.
Which one would you rather shop in? Which one gives you a better impression of the high street, customer service and quality?