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Who’s Queen?

Warning: This post contains some ranting.

Last night I sat down to watch Mary, Queen of Shops on the old goggle box. I’ve seen the show before, but never as a small business owner, so I was interested to see what words of wisdom could be gleaned from it.


I was almost drawn in by terms such as ‘anchor’ when referring to the re-branding of the Eastend’s Roman Road, finding myself nodding emphatically,agreeing that the issues could be rectified. However, it soon became apparent that in order to create this ‘new’ experience some traders would loose their livelihoods. I’m not naïve, I do realise that many of the stallholders needed to move with the times in order to survive, but that’s not the same as actually moving. On top of that, the system of joining a waiting list to secure a plot on the market was whipped away.

The reality, carefully hidden underneath a retro shabby-chic carpet, is that the picture is skewed. New businesses do not simply spring up over night. They take years of planning and, if you’re sensible, saving, redrafting and then a little bit more planning. Shops were given a face lift for the t.v. Lovely, but how much would that cost in real life?

Here’s an example for you. Now that the sun has finally arrived, we need an awning to shade our window. Our poor books are getting changed on an hourly basis to stop them curling up like old sandwiches! No problem we thought, there was an awning there before, so we’ll just get a new one. Ideally we would like to restore the original, but it looks like the fixings have been painted over a few too many times.

The Highways Agency want a fee of £795, because and I quote ‘it will overhang the pavement, so you will need their permission’. Really? Of course it will overhang the pavement, otherwise it would be a curtain! Plus an additional ‘planning permission’ fee to the Council, which makes the seemingly straightforward solution an impossibility. If this is how new businesses are being supported by local and national Government, we are not amused.

Queen Victoria

Rant over.


The independent children's bookshop and tuition centre in the heart of Brentwood, Essex. Owned and run by Mr Frog & Mrs Chicken (happily married book-nerds), with the sole aim of bringing high quality books and tuition to our community.