Usually I craft each of these blog posts well in advance of publication, and schedule them so as not to flood the blog with new material each time we’ve been somewhere or when a subject crosses my mind, but sometimes time is just too short. And so it is with the news, spotted on social media last week, that the Vintage Magazine Store in Soho’s Brewer Street is the latest victim of the creeping gentrification and homogenisation of Soho. I’ve loved that store ever since I was introduced to it in the 80s. My downstairs loo is adorned with framed 10×8 black and white prints of British comedy stores bought there; I have bookfulls of their postcards, more coasters than I could ever possibly use thanks to their ever-changing range of vintage designs, enough posters to cover a house full of long windowless corridors and still have some to spare, and only last month the obliging chap in the basement ran off a couple of canvas tote bags with a fantastic record shop design for Mrs M and her chum as the stock had run out upstairs. Basically, I can’t pass it without calling in, and can’t call in without buying something.
And now the lease is up, the store’s closing, and trading is moving on-line. I guess the Brighton outlet will remain, but it won’t have the same feel as the Soho original, and certainly doesn’t have room for the umpteen crates of original magazines that gave the store its name. No doubt the site will disappear under scaffolding for a few months, then emerge as some shiny chain retail outlet or yet another swish cafe/restaurant/bar. What with the likely loss of the original Foyles building, and the demise of the bookshop opposite it, I’d recommend wasting no time for a last look at grubby, charming, independent Soho before it looks like any other town centre.