Farewell Nicole’s

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Nicole’s, the card and gift shop in Wanstead High Street, is closing down today, Saturday. A notice in the window says the branch is shutting and business will now be carried on from its Woodford Green branch.

It was in the height of the great Wanstead parking wars, which ended last summer, that shopkeepers complained most bitterly about how difficult it was for people to stop and shop in Wanstead High Street. And it was at the Area1 committee last May which discussed the problem at which the potential closure of Nicole’s was first mentioned.

The apparent solution to the parking problems, and Christmas, have evidently not been enough to persuade the shop it can continue – though the Rio shoe shop near Starbucks reversed its closure plan at the 11th hour in the Autumn. Though Nicole’s has been looking tired for a while, it was a good source of greetings cards and presents and as such a useful addition to the High Street.

It is not yet known what if anything will be taking Nicole’s place – there are already a number of vacant shops on the High Street.

* Wanstead News, the newsagent near the Corner House, is apparently for sale. This listing has appeared on Rightmove offering the business with a nine-year lease for sale for £75k. (Credit to reader Mrs Robespierre who spotted it and reported it on Wanstead Talk.)news




25 thoughts on “Farewell Nicole’s”

  1. Really sad to see Nicole’s go. I have bought lots from the shop over the years. I hope the owners change their minds….!

    Although I live in Wanstead and walk to the High Street, I hear often from others how offputting the lack parking is to potential shoppers. There is much confusion about the wide variation in time restrictions that people fear they are going to fall foul of.

    Also, for example, many Wanstead Church School (opposite Nicole’s) parents leave their cars on double yellow lines whilst they dash in to collect their children then dash off again. There is zero parking near the school. They then cannot stop for a coffee or to buy a card.

  2. Shame. My girls will both be disappointed. There are precious few places to buy little gifts or toys on the high street, since the closure of Woolies. This will make it even worse. 🙁

  3. surely we actually need to use the things that we were all born with a little more…. they are free – our legs… there are no restrictions for walkers or cyclists. Yes I know we are all busy however with the world getting larger waist lines surely we ought to be encouraging this? I remain amazed at how many people drive the 5 minute walk to the station and the highstreet every day – perhaps we should have a car free zone once a month during the market to encourage cyclists and pedestrians…..

  4. I spoke to the owner when I realised the shop was closing. She is moving away and is not looking to renew the lease for another 5 years. The woodford branch will remain open.
    It is a shame that all these shops are disappearing, I also heard a rumour that blush temples will be closing soon too!

  5. I agree that is a great shame about Nicole’s. The Snaresbrook end of the High Street seems to be dying on its feet. People who live in the area (as indeed I do) should be supporting their local shops otherwise it will be submerged in estate agents and chain coffee shops.

  6. Have you ever tried parking in South Woodford? It’s near impossible I find. Despite this, their local businesses seem to be doing better than Wanstead. Let’s not blame it all on parking.

    Wanstead, I feel, has lost its critical mass. With the dominance of Amazon, the types of goods and services available on the high street must change. Personally, I shop in Nicole’s and am sad to see it go, but there is little else of use to me.

    Wanstead is an affluent area with a very pleasant high street. It should be able to thrive. It would be good to have some sort of poll to see what types of shops people want and then invite existing business to expand into Wanstead. Meanwhile, critical mass or not, let’s support the shops we want to keep.

  7. I have just returned from Wanstead having been to the fab A.G Dennis butchers. The key is to build a relationship with the local shopkeepers . Wanstead needs to keep it’s ‘London Village’ feel. I live in Chigwell and specifically drive or tube to Wanstead just to cheer me up from the usual mundane and run down shopping areas. Important to keep the character and feel of the place. We need independant shopkeepers to keep the shopping experience pleasurable.

  8. That is devastating news for the high street…I always get my cards from there….such nice people to deal with too.

    I am preparing the next edition of The Green magazine that will be delivered to 10,000 local homes. If anyone fancied writing a epice about the high street or local shopping or any ideas let me know. Also if you have a local business I could give it a push in the magazine.

    Contact me



  9. It is a shame Nicole’s is going but TBH, I use the high street often and only found it useful for the odd children’s gift – I thought it was a rusty and the cards were a bit Clinton-esque (sorry) and go to The Orange Tree for prettier, more original greetings cards.
    I think the high street could be amazing but it frustrates me that independent stores can’t see how much a lick of paint and a bit of updating could do wonders (look at, Stitch Fabrics, The Orange Tree, The Larder and The Cuckfield which all look great and make for a more modern high street).
    I personally, would love to see:
    1. A great bookshop. Yes, I know there is Oxfam and a library but I’d use an independent shop – a children’s bookshop would be great, perhaps with some tables and afternoon reading sessions/small coffee bar etc.
    2. A good stationers. I know it’s a chain but what something like Paperchase – just a more modern place offering cards/arts and crafts stuff/small gifts.
    3. A affordable childrens/baby clothes/store. Blackheath Village have a lovely JoJo Maman Bebe which I (and judging by the amount of other mums in Wanstead) would use loads.
    4. A place to eat/drink with children. (Sorry, I’m getting that this is all very kid’s based!) The Larder is brilliant but always jammed (surely a sign a bit of competition would do well?). What is the deal with the dull ‘community cafe’ opposite the playground? I’ve only ever seen, possibly two people in there ever – surely it’s a brilliant spot for a lovely children-friendly cafe or even something like a Giraffe.
    Okay, that’s it.

  10. Leyla come on – Whats wrong with the Oxfam bookshop at least when you buy in there its doing some good-one minute she wants independent shops and then wants a Paperchase in the High street, as for cafes – isnt there enought places to eat and drink in the street-just wonder how long it would take if you had a drink in every place in the hight street-Finally ‘Stitch@ are not in the High Street

  11. Always a good turnout for a retail related blog post 🙂

    I try to use the High Street whenever I can and I’ve been making a point of using it more of late. That tends to be for eating out, good quality local food produce, like bakery, or things that I forgot to get at the supermarket and for specialist stores that offer choice e.g. card shops. Clothes, gifts; I’m online.

    As with Wanstead restaurant discussions on here, I’m not sure on the sequence of chicken and egg; is Wanstead under supplied on quality bespoke retail or is the demand just not there? When we get hit by a wave of bearded men wearing vegan shoes, I’ll know we have made it 😉

    Interesting comments on parking restrictions, which I think are relevant. The relaxation in Wanstead is positive , but overall borough parking strategy sadly is still overwhelmingly driven by a restriction, revenue and policing mindset. That needs to change.

    Regular Hackney visitor myself; playtime in the excellent Vicky Park with the boy, bit of shopping (hmmm Ginger Pig sausage rolls or fish from Norris’), maybe a great meal at the Empress. So nice.

    Oh and I think we need a discussion about the play area on Christchurch Green which is desperate.

  12. I’d also like to see a JoJo Maman Bebe or perhaps Bambini could move to a larger premises.

    Bookshops with cafés are great places to hang out but people tend to abuse them as a luxury library whilst still buying books online. A family friendly cafe with a good book corner might be more realistic.

    Agree with previous comment that playground is desperate. It is so well used and really needs an upgrade. If the council can’t afford it perhaps we could raise funds within the community.

  13. Really sad to see Nicoles go – I often use to get a few presents in there! What is happening to our high street? All very well saying that we want a traditional but trendy high street with little original shops but with rates the cost they are, how can anyone survive? I’m on it though… currently working out how….

  14. I’m much in agreement with Leyla – so many people with young children, no doubt attracted by the diverse housing, schools, open spaces etc etc, as we were, but relatively little to keep us here of a weekend, and out of eg Westfield / Victoria Park / town. That’s not to say there aren’t things to do / places to shop. We use very regularly: the Co-op, the pet shop, the library, Belgique (OK, so those last two aren’t on the high street), Boots and the other chemist, the various newsagents and annoyingly, Nicoles. Once in a while: The Orange Tree, the Larder, Provender, The Art Shop. Everything else, almost never.

    I’m with Robespierre on the park, too. We go down to the one at Greenman roundabout for a change of scene, with its open but secure space to run around in.

    Here’s my wishlist. If each and every one of these could uproot themselves from their various locations, I’d be delighted: Bottle Apostle – an independent off licence with tastings and events. Any fishmonger, really. An everyday clothing shop for children, yep, JoJo Maman Bebe springs to mind – it’s ouch at the till, but those clothes wash and wash and wash. A lively, child-friendly restaurant, something in the spirit of a Carluccios or The Real Greek or Giraffe (don’t care if they’re a brand or independent). A Tiger – bloody love them. (Failing that, a massive TATE gift shop.)

  15. It’s very sad to see another shop close and leave the high street , please all support the high street frequently ! After closing the shop today we picked up some groceries next door from simply natural , and then we went to hadley house for dinner which was lovely , new owners are taking over next week and food I’m sure will be great ! If everybody used the high street more often we would not see businesses closing down .

  16. I agree with Alice in that something like a Bottle Apostle, the aforementioned JoJo Maman and a kid friendly cafe would be spot-on.
    And also, an updated playground would be amazing – I’m in Aldersbrook which has no play area at all (another discussoon entirely – anyone any thoughts on this?) so often walk into Wanstead to use the facilities there. And I’d do so more often if some of the above places were available for sure. I only go to Viccy Park because the playground is so great.
    Maybe the new restaurant opening in the building next to the options will be kid friendly too?!

  17. I am sad to see Nicole’s go. I was a regular customer and I do drive to the High Street. Although my address is Wanstead, I live more than 15 minutes walk away and often use my car to support my local high street. Thank goodness the parking situation has improved. It’s a shame Nicole’s couldn’t continue. I agree it was a great place to buy pretty cards and interesting gifts.

  18. Completely disagree with Leyla’s assassination attempt on the Cherry Tree Cafe… You make your own atmosphere! We often meet up in there as a group of 10 mums with babies under 9 months – the coffee is surprisingly good, as are the cakes! They’re at least fresh, which is more than Starbucks offer, and you don ‘t get a surly ‘barister’ suggesting leaving 4 prams containing 4 babies under 5 months at the front of the shop by the door (unattended) while we sit at the back, as happened in Costa just before Christmas. Or get dirty looks from staff while discreetly breastfeeding under a nursing bib – also Costa.

    The Cherry Tree is a project to help people with learning difficulties gain work experience and employment in catering, and as part of a so called community, you should be behind it supporting it. It’s also really reasonable in price – we can’t all afford The Larder as a regular thing (sadly) As I said – the people in a building make it what it is… That includes the clientele!

  19. It is a terrible shame. I wonder if rent rises and business rates are more to blame than the parking, which while not great isn’t that bad. I paid three quid for an hour in Haggerston just before Xmas

  20. I have to agree with many of the comments here. It is a shame to see Nicole’s go – the high street has a lovely feel and oodles of potential, and I’m all for supporting independents, but the selection of shops, it has to be said, is underwhelming. We use much the same shops mentioned in Alice’s comment but it’s usually not enough to brave the parking restrictions and make a special trip.

    The Oxfam shop is good and yes, there are lots of cafes, but most of them are tired-looking and uninviting. Somewhere that caters to the many families in the area is sorely missing. The Larder is tiny and yes, expensive, and I haven’t been to the Cherry Tree cafe so can’t comment on that.

    As for the play area situation – yes please to an improved playground in Wanstead and, while we’re at it, one in Aldersbrook for the heaps of families there so we can stop crowding out the one on Christchurch Green 😉 While other east London boroughs are revamping and remodelling their play spaces into fantastic community areas (see Vicky Park, Lloyd Park in E17 – or in fact any of the many playgrounds Waltham Forest is redoing), Redbridge appears to be asleep at the wheel.

  21. I will not be sad to see the back of Nicoles. It was tired looking and service was never great in there. The Orange Tree does well becuase it is inviting and kept fresh looking. I have bought many items there from decorations, candles and picture frames to Mirrors even though I can possibly get them cheaper on line. Residents do want to support the High Street, but shop owners need to up their game otherwise we will continue to head elsewhere.

    Totally agree we need a kid friendly restaurant – a Giraffe will do!! A decent childrens clothes shop will also do well. Fish mongers/restaurant also gets my vote.

    Good/Decent = Orange Tree, Sushi Place, Barbers at Snaresbrook end, Lighthouse, Belgique, Wanstead Pharmacy and Boots, Co-Op, Butchers, Blush Temples, Provender, Hadley House (ignoring the decor!), Larder, Majestic, Charity Shops although not sure we need all 3!

  22. Re: Joe’s comment. Not an assassination attempt on The Cherry Tree Cafe; genuinely have never seen more than a handful of people in there … but I’ll give it a go next time if the cakes are as good as you say ; )
    And re: playgrounds. Apparently for Aldersbrook the land ownership is spread between Redbridge, Newham and the Corporation of London making it difficult to get agreement to funding/on-going maintenance. Shame.

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