Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kingston-on-Thames as a Model shopping destination (versus Ealing and other places)

Yesterday we hooped on the 65 bus for a wander around Kingston in the late summer sun.
When it comes to shopping (which certainly isn't the be all and end all for me) I like Kingston, it's got a lot going on with a pedestrian area at it's heart with music and street performers.

Swans take a snack in Charter Quay 
It's got water (The Thames) which is a diversion it doesn't seem constructed but has a structure and has a centre and edges.

As well as retail it has a Theatre (The Rose) and a Cinema Multiplex which is modern and central (ish called the Rotunda) with bowling and restaurants.
Kingston has some great 'name' retailers that aren't in all the high streets like for example Clas Ohlson and Lakeland
I'm not sure if it does all this despite not being on the underground or because of it but it is so different from such shopping centres as Westfields or Brent Cross which exist only for retail.
Brown's do a decent lunch

Kingston does face challenges keeping alive the independents and attracting the multiples is a a difficult balance thew new eateries by the river are largely national franchises which feels a shame but I expect the rents require a hefty footfall and professional corporate operators.
We ate our lunch at Brown's which was very pleasant and well pitched at a single course meal with soft drinks coming in at just a shade under £25 it was unhurried and the view across the river made it seem a treat.

Kingston also has an open air market (admittedly not on a Friday) but instead on the day we were there was a musician playing and people were sitting and listening. 

Kingston has a big Bentall's and a John Lewis two proper department stores. 

Let's contrast with Ealing no departmental sores (unless you call M&S a departmental store), no cinema and no theatre - when I was first in Ealing it two as well, it   had a Bentall's and a John Sanders. 

For me Ealing needs to move forward and use it's heritage but it'll be a challenge to carve out it's own niche using the attributes and history it has. (Perhaps a Tourist information and council focus on visitors would help?)
Listen to the music
Home for the weekend market

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