Shopping: Trading places in Potters Bar
PUBLISHED: 11:20 21 April 2015 | UPDATED: 13:08 21 April 2015
It's not the prettiest high street in Herts, but Potters Bar has that rare thing - a host of long-standing, trusted businesses that have weathered the economic storms of late to keep providing top-class service. Julie Lucas is charmed
If there’s one thing you learn walking along Hertfordshire’s high streets, it is that first impressions do not always count. In Potters Bar, you won’t find a quaint shopping avenue or town square, but the town’s friendly businesses will welcome you with arms as wide as its streets and you will find trusted retailers with years of experience.
Jean Howlett opened the Dress Circle on the High Street 17 years ago and sells pre-loved clothes ranging from casual pieces to evening wear, accessories and shoes. ‘It’s like Christmas every day,’ she says of finding new goods to sell, ‘I never get bored.’ Regular customer Tracey Moss agrees, ‘I find you get something different here, not something everyone’s wearing. It’s original.’
Further along the street, Tabrizi is another long-standing outlet selling men’s designer wear, including items from Ralph Lauren and Paul Smith. Owner Mas Tabrizi puts his success down to ‘very hard work’ and providing great customer service: ‘The customer is king,’ he adds.
On Darkes Lane, the Closet has fashionable women’s wear that won’t break the bank, while at My Little Boutique the focus is on stylish clothes for young fashionistas. ‘I try to offer something that you won’t find on the high street,’ says joint owner Svitlana Kuznecova. ‘People travel from Potters Bar to Brent Cross to find children’s clothing, but we are on the doorstep.’ Next door, jeweller Nicholas Meffan specialises in quality repairs and antique jewellery restoration. The shop also stocks a range of jewellery including some pieces made from dried flowers. Cat Meffan, the daughter of the owners, has designed her own range of made-to-order rings with bold colourful stones set in 18ct white and yellow gold, created and hand-finished in England. She said, ‘With my parents in the industry and having worked at both Garrard and Links of London, it felt right to design my own collection.’
At the other end of Darkes Lane, Precious Soles has been fitting children’s shoes for the past 13 years. The business gets most of its custom from referrals from podiatrists because of its ethos on proper fitting.
Whether you want to move or improve, there is plenty of interior inspiration to be found in the area. Oliver Matthews has been manufacturing its own range of luxury made-to-measure sofas and chairs since 1958 with a focus on traditional craftsmanship. Being non mass-produced means individual requirements can be catered for. The large showroom also offers famous furniture brands like Ercol.
John Powell’s belief that buying a carpet should be a stress-free and a straightforward business has led to 30 years of success at his eponymous shop on the High Street.
For creative design ideas, try Elizabeth Stuart Interiors, which offers a bespoke design service for homes.
Abi Kramer opened her Lighting and Electrical Showroom on Kemble Parade five years ago. Husband Stephen has been in the electrical business for nearly 30 years and runs Kramer Electrical on the High Street. Abi says it made sense to complement the existing business by selling a range of lighting and has built up a loyal customer base due to the fact that ‘if I haven’t got it, I’ll always find something similar’.
Whether you are looking for minimalist chic or timeless design, family-run Designer Kitchens in the High Street offers a full bespoke service. ‘We have crafted, sold and experienced every kitchen there is over the past 25 years,’ says Ellie Nicholas.
Baths on Broadway has show-stopping bathroom interiors, while for quality tiling head to Bibliotheque at the Devonshire Business Centre. For paints, the Dulux Decorator Centre will colour-match anything from ruby red to garish green.
Family-run Bistro the Walk on the High Street specialises in tasty Mediterranean food at both lunch and in the evening, while just down the street the friendly Oakmere Tea and Dining Room is a Potters Bar institution with a buzz of school-run mums, lazy Saturday breakfasters and Sunday brunchers. Try the Shaad on Princes Parade for modern Indian cuisine. Planning a major barbecue? Consider taking the stress out of the preperations by calling the Organic Spit Roast Company on Darkes Lane to do it for you instead.
You wouldn’t expect to find meat associated with Australian or Africa in Potters Bar but as Reader Butchers’ David Butler says, ‘We like all the weird and wonderful things.’ Among his beef and chicken you will find kangaroo, ostrich and bison.
He explains that because the meat is wild it is very low in cholesterol, with no fat. He also makes a range of sausages, including those with 95 per cent pure meat. Butler’s daughter runs the local Slimming World club and, with half a point each, the sausages are proving a winner for calorie counters.
For pure indulgence, don’t leave Potters Bar without popping into Rock Pop Candy. Whether you were a Candy Sticks girl or a Bubblicious boy, the shop’s ‘memory bags’ will take you back to your childhood, and they’re perfect for presents or treats.