Up and down the country, local shopping centres and high streets are beginning to look almost identical. Each one has the same old clothing retailers, same old fast food joints and same old coffee shops.
Albert Road in Southsea, Portsmouth is a notable exception. Instead of having endless chain stores, it boasts half a mile of shops which are almost all owned by independent traders.
This is what many claim gives the road its unique atmosphere, and the eclectic mix of weird and wonderful shops have also ensured a quirky and trendy reputation, which in turn attracts an equally quirky and trendy clientele.
Instead of Primark and New Look, there is Dress Code, a 90s-themed clothes shop which proudly caters for both “dudes” and “chicks”.
Instead of Burger King and KFC, Albert Road-regulars often eat at the nearby Pie and Vinyl. As the name suggests, the establishment sells both pies and vinyl records, a winning combination that has seen the restaurant become massively popular.
And instead of Café Nero, the area has Café Au Cinema, which is ideal for coffee lovers and film buffs due to the fact that it is both an independent cinema as well as a coffee house.
In fact, there is a plethora of independent coffee shops to choose from including Aurora, Home Coffee, Hunter Gatherer and more. Up until now, they have all existed in peace and harmony, but something has threatened to change that.
Plans have emerged for Costa Coffee, a multinational chain, to turn a currently empty shop right in the heart of Albert Road into a new branch. Predictably, there has been uproar. Continue reading