Family-run Queen’s Crescent store Franks to ‘close’ after 72 years
Smaller shop will open nearby but end of an era for the Streeters
13 August, 2018 — By Dan Carrier
Gillian Self with Teri Benson: ‘We know our customers by name’
IT has become a shopping landmark in a street that has long been a centre of commerce in Kentish Town and Gospel Oak – but today (Thursday) the tills at Franks Superstore, in Queen’s Crescent, will ring up a sale for the last time.
The store, which opened in 1946 in a road famous for its street market, will close its shutters before relocating along the road to smaller premises – ending an era that has lasted eight decades.
The Streeter family, who opened Franks just a year after the Second World War ended, have sold the double-fronted shop to an anonymous new owner – though they confirmed to the New Journal it is not Tesco, as many had feared. Shop founder Frank senior died in 2015. His daughter, Gillian Self, who runs the shop with her brother, Frank junior, said: “Frank spends all his days in the shop and it comes to a point where we all have to slow down. It means Frank can spend more time fishing, which is what he really loves doing.”
Customers can take heart from the fact the family will be reopening nearby at a date that has yet to be confirmed.
“It is going to be like a mini-Franks,” said Gillian. “It is smaller, but we will try and still sell what we can – and Frank is always good at finding space for products people want.”
Frank senior set up a cafe in the building which is now the shop in July, 1946. He was known for his cooking, serving up traditional fare. He took to selling loose biscuits from a stall on the street after meeting a contact who had a biscuit factory in Cheshire, and gradually expanded his offerings until Franks Superstore became a landmark.
“My dad started small and then it got bigger and bigger – some days you could hardly get in because so many people were here,” Gillian said. “He started in one side of the shop but then the opportunity came for him to expand next door and Franks Superstore was born.
“My dad and my mum Beryl used to say that they had been here for so long they had seen generations grow up and I can now say the same.”
She added that the appeal of the shop was their traditional approach. “We have stayed old- fashioned,” she said. “We still don’t take credit cards. We know our customers by name. Some of them like to come in and have a grumble about what not, but we don’t mind – our customers are so lovely.
“We have people from all walks of life, from all round the world, and we have so many loyal customers who are our friends.
“Most of the people who come in might do a shop at one of the big chains, but still come here too – you can get everything at Franks. Frank still buys in things you don’t get in the major supermarkets.”