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Shop Local: Works to Ilford Station and Covid a ‘double whammy’ says owner of 42-year-old town centre clothing shop

PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:06 22 October 2020

Max (left) and Atul Shah, owners of Tight Fit Jeans say the works to Ilford Station along with the pandemic have hit their business hard. Picture: Roy Chacko

Max (left) and Atul Shah, owners of Tight Fit Jeans say the works to Ilford Station along with the pandemic have hit their business hard. Picture: Roy Chacko

Archant

The owner of Tight Fit Jeans says that Covid, paired with the closure of the nearest entrance to Ilford Station, has presented a one-two punch to his business, with Brexit being a “third monster” lurking around the corner.

Shop LocalShop Local

Atul Shah has owned and run the fashion retailer in Cranbrook Road since 1978 along with his brother Max.

Since lockdown hit Atul said their week-on-week takings have gone down at least 30 per cent, which started before Covid hit when the station entrance down the street from his shop closed, reducing the footfall outside.

Atul Shah has been specialising in the perfect fit denim since 1978. Picture: Roy ChackoAtul Shah has been specialising in the perfect fit denim since 1978. Picture: Roy Chacko

On top of that is the looming threat of Brexit and how that will affect the large immigrant population in Ilford.

Atul told the Recorder: “We’re sitting on a big monster with Brexit and we don’t know what is going to happen in January.

The two brothers run the business and said they are lucky to have a loyal clientele which has helped them survive the pandemic so far. Picture: Roy ChackoThe two brothers run the business and said they are lucky to have a loyal clientele which has helped them survive the pandemic so far. Picture: Roy Chacko

“Ilford has for the last few years become a very European town, we don’t know their staying power, whether they’re here for the long term or whether they’re going back.”

Tight Fit specialises in denim and fitting out any shape or size so customers walk away with the perfect look just for them.

Tight Fit has been an institution in Ilford since 1978. Picture: Atul ShahTight Fit has been an institution in Ilford since 1978. Picture: Atul Shah

With so many people working from home and with restrictions on going out to pubs and clubs there is less of a need to buy new clothes and that has hurt businesses like Tight Fit.

Atul says the “three monsters” are waiting to explode and he predicts a lot of businesses in the town centre won’t survive.

Atul Shah fitting a customer. Picture: Atul ShahAtul Shah fitting a customer. Picture: Atul Shah

“Which one is going to explode first you don’t know.

“Independently you might be OK but if you get three big bangs, oh boy, it’s going to be an interesting time.”

The shop has been a family business with multiple generations running it. Picture: Atul ShahThe shop has been a family business with multiple generations running it. Picture: Atul Shah

Atul and Max do not let anyone in unless they have a mask and then they immediately make them fill in their info for track and trace.

People are reluctant to comply and sometimes it’s almost led to fights with their customers.

The shop specialises in finding you the perfect fit. Picture: Atul ShahThe shop specialises in finding you the perfect fit. Picture: Atul Shah

Atul said he is happy to comply with the restrictions but it’s hypocritical that grocery shops and chemists don’t have to follow the same rules, particularly since their footfall is much higher.

Losing a shop that has been part of the Ilford landscape for more than 40 years would be a blow for the community. The best chance of survival for Tight Fit and all the other independent shops in Ilford is for the people who live here to support them.

The front of the shop through the years. Picture: Atul ShahThe front of the shop through the years. Picture: Atul Shah

For more information visit Tight Fit’s instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/tightfitjeans


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