Cape Town - Well-known shops on the Long Street stretch have survived the vicissitudes of time, successfully fending off a slow economy and tapping into Cape Town’s evergreen tourist market.
David McLennan, owner of Select Books, who runs the shop with his wife, opened up in 1986.
He is grateful for the service offered by the City of Cape Town and the Cape Town Central Improvement District (CCID), which “have made a tremendous difference” by addressing the “grime and crime”.
Among other things, this involved returning street children to their families.
McLennan said the shop had to adapt to “modern times” to survive and used the internet to drum up business.
It also relied heavily on foot traffic.
“It’s not that our business is doubling in size, it has a niche market and doesn’t lend itself to expansion. My message is that the city must carry on doing what it does to promote tourism as it is a major creator of jobs.”
Just across the road from Select Books is Salon Capri Barber Shop run by Carmine Mosca, who has been in the hair business for 45 years.
He opened his shop in Long Street 41 years ago.
Apart from cutting hair, he sells a range of items, such as caps and beanies, to add to his business income.
“Twenty years ago I survived on our regular customers, but now I am coping on our international customers. They keep us going. The loyalty is not the same as it was then.”
Mosca said he used to get about 15 customers a day 20 years ago, but it’s down to 10.
“It is a dying trade, but I am surviving,” he said.
“Trends are changing. I don’t know the reason, maybe they are looking for younger hairdressers with female assistants who can do things like highlights and so on.”
Julie Atkinson, owner of Atkinson’s Antiques, said the shop has been in Long Street since 1985.
She employs an assistant and a bookkeeper.
“It has got busier. We get a lot of local and international tourists coming in.
“My business has an amazing potential. I should be retiring as I am 80 years old, but I still enjoy what I do.”
Olsen’s Pharmacy is another that has managed to continue trading over the years, despite tough economic conditions that have seen several other pharmacies, including the popular White’s Pharmacy in Plein Street, shutting shop.
Pharmacist Graeme Sarembock took over the pharmacy in 1987.
He said its history dated back to the 1940s, when it was opened by a Mr Olsen from Norway.
He has a staff of eight.
The longest-serving is Donald van Dieman, who has been at Olsen’s since Sarembock took ownership 27 years ago.
He says he has had to adapt by selling curios, T-shirts and other memorabilia, mainly to international visitors.
“It was easier to cope in those days. There were no in-store pharmacies, such as the big retail stores. Also, the government has passed new laws recently that put a limit on pricing. That was why most of the other pharmacies closed.”
Sarembock said when he started his business, there were more than 20 pharmacies in the central business district.
His rent had increased substantially over the years.
“Looking ahead, the business is going to be much the same as it is now. I don’t think it will grow much.
“We moved into gifts and have taken away most of the pharmacy.”
Henrietta Dax, owner of Clarke’s Bookshop, said although the shop was about 60 years old, she took over ownership after its former owner, Anthony Clarke, died in 1981.
She said she gets many local and international visitors who keep her and a staff of eight busy. - Cape Argus