Buy now or bye now


As Suzanne Bennett laments the closure of Sid & Evie’s – a business she opened 13 years ago – the mother-of-two (Sid and Evie) urges residents to use South Woodford’s remaining independent shops or lose them

I have loved my time at Sid & Evie’s in South Woodford, and it has been an extremely tough decision to say farewell and close in early spring. Serving and being part of my community has been a pleasure. We have watched families grow with us and I know that I, my family and my team will miss the shop terribly, with all the tears and laughter we have had along the way.

We opened 13 years ago. I was inspired by having two young children of my own and not being able to find lovely gifts, clothes and shoes at affordable prices. As the business grew, the shoe-fitting side of our work grew organically. We prided ourselves on giving a one-to-one fitting service, offering knowledge and a variety of British and worldwide brands with good, old-fashioned service.

There are several reasons why Sid & Evie’s has to close, most obviously rising rent. Then there are a whole host of other price increases, which have made things tough. Brexit was a key issue, with import duty on stock from those small, unique European brands. We were just not able to cope with the rising cost of stock. Then came COVID, and no explanation is needed there; it nearly wiped us out at the time. The business grant only covered the rent and, of course, the pandemic pushed more customers to shop online.

Our economy is in bits with the cost of living crisis, and I think this is only set to continue for some time to come. Simply, we just don’t have enough footfall to cover our rising expenses.

The important thing is to support your local independent businesses now more than ever before. Otherwise, all our high streets will become faceless corporates or empty shops. Money is tight for everyone, but if you can treat yourselves, just think where you spend it. If we want shops to stay open, the government also needs to support us with grants to get us through this recession, and rents need to be lower. But most of all, customers need to shop at their independents.

Food, coffee and beauty shops are all primarily service industries, and therefore stock isn’t such a risk. These businesses stand a better chance on the high street; that’s why there are so many. So, please, use your independents if you value them and want them to stay. Lots of people like the idea of having them, but you need to use them, or you will simply lose them.

I will always have fond memories of my time at Sid & Evie’s and all our amazing customers, and would like to thank all who visited the shop over the years. I’m sure I will still see many of you around South Woodford.

Sid & Evie’s is located at 174 George Lane, South Woodford, E18 1AY. The shop’s last day will be 18 March. Call 020 8530 5988