Frivoli may be “forced to close”

Hazel Gardner has had the Frivoli gallery in Devonshire Rd since 1991. Next year will be her thirtieth anniversary, if she remains open.

“I run a business which relies on people bringing delicate stuff, and heavy stuff – paintings, ceramics, bronzes – from as far afield as Lincolnshire and Suffolk” she told The Chiswick Calendar.

Her gallery has a mix of gorgeous art work, from jewellery in the glass case beside the till, to silk scarves and woven hangings, ceramics, sculptures and a basement full of paintings.  She has long experience of dealing with artists and her displays are a riot of colours and textures. You can always find something beautiful and original on a trip to her shop.

Her aim is to provide people with beautiful things that are “life-enhancing, enjoyable and comfortable to live with. I like to think of my things in people’s houses, becoming part of their homes” she says.

She is worried that the plans to restrict Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Rd to pedestrians and cyclists, will kill off her business. The council is introducing the traffic restrictions in response to statutory guidelines issued by the Government to make local councils provide more space for shoppers to walk around while maintaining social distancing. They will enable businesses to spread out onto the pavement, which for restaurants would increase their footfall.

Some traders are in favour of the changes but many are concerned that if customers can’t pull up and park to drop off and collect, particularly heavy items, they will kill off whatever business they have left after Covid-19 has done its worst.

Images above: Interior of Frivoli and owner Hazel Gardner

“People bring me things to be mended as well” says Hazel. “You can’t carry a painting in a heavy frame far, with broken glass”.

Under the new scheme her suppliers would be able to deliver their work to her, but customers would have to park round the corner on the High Rd, if they needed to bring their car. The council’s hope (and the Government’s and the Mayor of London’s) is that there will be a sea change in people’s behaviour and many more of us will abandon our cars and take to walking and cycling.

“I have a workshop in Acton which I go back and forward to once or twice a day” says Hazel.

She pays for a businesss parking permit at the moment and when she isn’t parked outside her shop, she parks in the Glebe estate. Although she can see how the changes might work for restaurants, she points out that for a lot of the year it’s too dark and cold to sit outside and that if she and other retailers close down, fewer people will want to eat in the street.

“The reason people come to a side street is the interesting shops” she says. “Why would you want to go to a restaurant in a dead street?”

Her neighbour is an osteopath who sees a lot of people with sports injuries. “His clients can’t walk or cycle”.

Her position on being able to park and her customers and suppliers also being able to park outside the shop is unequivocal.

“Without being able to do these things, I can’t reopen”.

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