It is a village like no other. Market called previously Granville Arcade, established in 1920s, now exists with a name of Brixton Village. It was rejuvenated a few years ago and now it has a new spirit created by local traders.
Margot, the owner of Leftovers, a shop with vintage French clothes, Anna, co-owner of Cornercopia, a restaurant selling only local food products, Emy, owner of Brixi that sells various items made mostly by young local designers, and Leona who sells vintage clothes tell their personal stories about Brixton Village.
Margot, Leftovers: Two years ago, in the village there was, among other units, a Colombian restaurant, a hairdresser but mainly drug dealers. It wasn’t a nice place, rather dodgy.
Anne, Cornercopia: No one was here before us. Units had no electricity or any other facilities. Simply nothing.
Margot: It was Spacemakers agency who wanted to re-create this place. I was coming to Brixton for shopping and found out about competition to run the business in Brixton Village.
Anne: Me and my partner had been living in Brixton for many years and heard about empty shops’ competition. We were really broken that time but wanted to give it a try. We were chosen as one of fifteen businesses and won three months free from rent. We started from making products ourselves and bringing one piece of furniture after another. Three months had passed until we got table and chairs. By the summer we had four sets. Friends helped us to paint and decorate the space – we were doing that during the day and in the night we were making jars to sell. It was exhausting.
Leona, sells vintage clothes: I was coming to Brixton Village for shopping and a friend, who is doing sequins work, recommended me to sell my vintage clothes collection in one of the existing shops. The clothes I sell are unique, authentic, different and one of a kind. This is why Brixton Village is good place to show them.
Emy, Brixi: I came here in the beginning of 2011, around a year after it had been reorganised. It was already well-developed and most of the shops were fully functioning. I saw and see a potential in this market. It has mentality of market and it is community oriented.
Margot: Brixton Village opened in December . The time before Christmas was successful but January and February were really hard because it was so cold and we didn’t have any heating here.
Anne: We were encouraging people to come but it wasn’t an easy job. Every evening and night there was an event – concert, movies screening, artistic performance or a workshop. During first six months around one thousand performances were organised in here - you never knew what was going to happen. The market became a theatre.
Margot: As a result more customers started coming in the summer. We weren’t using any advertisement, apart from the word of mouth. It was the best strategy, because people perceived Brixton Village as something mysterious and yet undiscovered, so they wanted to come and see.
Leona: Brixton went through an extraordinary change. It’s growing and now it reminds me about Brooklyn, New York. Brixton Village is going vintage and becoming very characteristic. It’s getting its own style.
Margot: It offers great food for fair money. I don’t know about similar place anywhere else. There is the Elephant with Pakistani street food and Cornercopia with ultra local products.
Emy: Village has a mix of old and new traders. Here, you can find an art boutique opposite a Colombian restaurant or Chinese medicine shop. You can’t get it anywhere else. It became more commercial than it had been in the beginning but still it has unique spirit.
Leona: It’s a collective spirit.
Emy: We are rather complementing each other than competing. Traders borrow things from each other. All together we’re family.
Leona: It has special vibe. Different ethnicities meet here. Sometimes, I feel like I was in Caribbean.
Emy: Brixton Village became a venue. Whenever you come, there is something going on. It’s popular but hidden and not so obvious for everyone. All traders share enthusiasm for this location and money is rather a bonus.
Anne: Now it’s a bit less of collective spirit but still the atmosphere is unique.
Emy: Brixton Village is developing in a good direction but it would be good if there was a balance between food places and traders, so it doesn’t become only a food destination.
Leona: I would like more shops to open here, not only with vintage clothes but with different range of products. It would create more chilled out atmosphere. And they should put Wi-Fi here. Come on we’re in 2012 and there’s no Wi-Fi in Brixton Village.