A family-owned Kentish Town womenswear shop that traces its Jewish origins back to the days of the East End textiles industry is to close its doors on a 100-year history at the end of this month.
Bluston’s owner Michael Albert decided to retire and call time on a century of trading spanning three generations of his family, the roots of which stem from Michael’s grandparents first coming to the UK from Russia in the 1890s.
“I’ll miss it a lot,” said Albert this week, as he looked forward to seeing more of his grandchildren. “I’ll miss being here, meeting different people every day, getting to know the community, the whole gamut of being social with the people around here.”
The shop, which hasn’t been decorated since the 1970s, survived two world wars but has struggled in the internet era. It’s a long cry from Michael’s grandparents, who opened a small haberdashery selling rolls of cloth which eventually led to a dress shop and finally the Kentish Town shop.
“In Russia you weren’t allowed to follow your religion,” he explains. “Jews weren’t allowed to be bankers and handle money, or Jewellers, they were sent out of the big towns and the only trade they were allowed to partake in was sewing and tailoring.”
Kentish Town residents were this week leaving written messages in a remembrance book and sending cards wishing the family well. But after 54 years working there, Michael admitted: “I’ll be sad to close but the time has come.”