Image above: Chiswick Flower Market – Photography by Gwen Shabka  www.gwenshabkaphotography.com

Chiswick Flower Market a roaring success

The first Chiswick Flower Market opened on Sunday (6 September), with several thousand people visiting the market in a steady stream from when it opened at 9.30am till when it closed at 3.00pm.

Most of the stall holders had sold out of stock by the end. Chiswick businesses on the High Rd, Devonshire Rd and Turnham Green Terrace also did very well from the visitors attracted to the market, with several who spoke to The Chiswick Calendar reporting double their normal Sunday turnover.

There were some concerns about social distancing, but the vast majority of those who came were full of praise for the initiative and the way in which it was organised, including a few celebrities who came to experience the new market.

The Flower Market received a lot of media attention. The FT gave us a double page spread. The Evening Standard promoted it as one of the top ten things to do in London this week, and Time Out named the market as the No.1 thing to do in London in September. We also made the BBC TV News on Sunday night.

Arit Anderson and Nicki Chapman among the visitors

Arit Anderson, presenter of BBC TV’s Gardeners World, who lives in west London, said:

“It’s really exciting. And what’s really lovely is that the local community can come down here once a month … there’s cut flowers, there’s bedding, there’s indoor plants, there’s outdoor plants, bulbs, you name it, and it’s a really really lovely thing”.

She’s pictured here at the Hampton Estate stall, who were selling hop bines. Available only at this time of year, this was a one off, but they were an instant hit, selling all the stock they brought – quite a lot of it to Sue Hearn, by the look of it, at the market with husband Cllr Sam Hearn. The Hampton Estate have been growing hops in the Surrey hills for hundreds of years and the dried hop bines make great decorations but are also used in pillow cases, to help with a good night’s sleep, by asthmatics.

Images above: Hampton Estate photographs by Frank Noon – www.franknoon.com.  Arit Anderson image from video by Hannah Winter-Levy. Image of Sue Hearn festooned in hop bines – Gwen Shabka – www.gwenshabkaphotography.com

TV presenter and music industry celebrity Nicki Chapman (presenter of Escape to the Country, who also judged the ITV reality shows Popstars), who is also a Chiswick resident, said:

“Well done to everyone involved in Chiswick Flower market today. First time in 150 years London has a new flower market. The high road is packed with people buying flowers, house plants but also supporting local shops & cafes”.

Two other TV presenters, Jeremy Vine and ‘Mr Plant Geek’ Michael Perry were also there.

Image above: Nicki Chapman at Chiswick Flower Market – Photograph Hannah Winter-Levy; Michael Perry at Chiswick Flower Market – Photograph Gwen Shabka

“Great atmosphere and lovely stalls”

Social media channels were flooded with complimentary messages such as these:

“Great atmosphere and lovely stalls” – Tom Ward

“Fantastic day” – Chiswick House, who made more than £1,000 from sales of flowers and vegetables from their Kitchen Garden.

“You guys absolutely nailed it! Congratulations. It is the best things I’ve seen happen in Chiswick in the last 20 years” – Paul Campbell.

A few people commented that they wished there were more cut flowers available. In fact the stallholder who would have been the biggest seller of cut flowers pulled out at the last moment because of a family emergency, but there will be more cut flowers available at the next market on Sunday 4 October.

The pilot for the ‘plant creche’ and free delivery of purchases locally by bike was deemed a success. Shoppers were able to leave their plants while they went off and had lunch or looked around the shops, and have them delivered home by bike. The cycling volunteers were kept busy with deliveries till after 5pm.

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market – Photograph by Frank Noon www.franknoon.com

Queues to get in

One woman, who writes on Twitter as Jane Writes posted:

‘Not impressed with the new market on Chiswick High Rd – area is rammed with sooo many cars & people, impossible to social distance, just not feeling it AT ALL’

The queue stretched from Linden Gardens to the entrance on Devonshire Rd most of the day, but was fast moving. Extra car parking, made available at St Mary’s RC School, just off the High Rd, was not used at all.

Cllr Ranjit Gill, who was doing duty alongside Cllr Ron Mushiso as a marshal at the entrance, pointed out that the pavements were marked out at intervals for to encourage distancing in the queue; people were offered hand gel on entry to the market and asked to wear a mask, even though it is not required by law at an outside event.

“When there’s too many people we block the entrances… People have to take their own initiative to do the social distancing.

He was full of praise for the event:

“It brings the community together and it encourages people to shop locally” he said. “This has brought everybody out and I think it’s been a great success”.

Images above: People queuing to get in; entrance – Frank Noon www.franknoon.com

“Who needs Columbia Rd?”

The leader of Chiswick’s Conservative councillors, Cllr Gerald McGregor also gave his congratulations and described the market as “brilliant”.

Leader of Hounslow Council Steve Curran said it was:

“A fantastic achievement by the team, great success, a great example of community and businesses working together”.

Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton described it as:

“Brilliant. Who needs Columbia Rd?”

Speaking for the organisers (of whom the editor of The Chiswick Calendar is one) Karen Liebreich said:

“At the peak we had a short clustering problem around a couple of the most popular stalls, so we put our plan into action which was to close the entrance and ask people to move along, and spread out.

Mask-wearing compliance was very high (even though it was outdoors). We had 60 marshals on duty over the day who all worked hard ensuring the safety of the visitors. Hounslow enforcement officers and the Met Police were on hand to assist us but did not feel any need to intervene. Safety will always be our number one consideration”.

Images above: Child at the market; plant stall at the market – Frank Noon www.franknoon.com

Huge enthusiasm from local businesses

The George IV did a roaring breakfast and lunch trade, as did Chateau, at the end of Linden Gardens.

“It’s great to see the High Rd so vibrant and buzzy” said Chateau owner Anette Megyaszai.

Stephen Foster at Foster Books also told us he’d had a very successful day, with people coming into the area who didn’t know it being surprised to find an antiquarian bookshop here.

Devonshire Rd also did well from the market. Dino, the owner of Casa Dino, said it was “Fantastic”. They did “at least 150% better” than usual because of the market.

Cecile Brinkmann, manager of the women’s fashion boutique Wild Swans in Devonshire Rd told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We are very happy. We had the best Sunday we’ve had this year; we doubled our sales from last Sunday”.

Dorian, the owner of Tamp Coffee shop in Devonshire Rd told us:

“Business has been decimated recently because of the road changes, but we are really happy with the Flower Market – anything that boosts business – and we took almost double what we did the Sunday before. I am really impressed”.

Shops in Turnham Green Terrace also reported increased footfall. LA Menswear told us they did “really well”; Postmark said they were 20% up on their usual Sunday and Pizza Treat, at the far end of Turnham Green Terrace, but on the route from the tube station to the market, also said they were 25% busier than normal.

Images above: Herboo stallholders’ pet dog advertising their stall; shoppers concentrate on choosing plants – Gwen Shabka – www.gwenshabkaphotography.com

£1,000 for Save the Children

On the High Rd itself, the manager of charity shop Mary’s Living and Giving, Cate James, sent the organisers this note:

‘Congratulations on such on such a fabulous start to the Flower Market. We want to send our heartfelt thanks for the extra customers it has brought to our shop. We have raised almost £1,000 for Save the Children today. It’s been amazing. We are over the moon. What a wonderful bit of joy at such a difficult time your flower market is. Truly well done and thank you”.

High Rd Brasserie were busier than usual.

“We will definitely have to staff up for the next one” said duty manager Verity.

Spencer Wheeler, who runs Wheelers Garden Centre in Turnham Green Terrace with his brother Jason, as well as two flower stalls on the High Rd, also reported their flower stall was busier than usual. They were asked to join the market but decided against, as they already sold at several locations in Chiswick.

Bookcase London wrote:

‘What a great day yesterday. Thanks to @ChiswickFlowers! Long may independent businesses live! We’ve just lost an order for a book, as this was 27p cheaper on Amazon. We really appreciate the continuous support of many of you, this is vital to keep us going’.

The next Chiswick Flower Market will be held on Sunday 4 October.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Flower Market traders – Jacques Amand

See also: Chiswick Flower Market traders – Steve Burridge