'Honesty Shop' trusts customers not to steal
Just a stone’s throw from where Merton was targeted by looters during the London riots, a trusting shop run out of a double decker bus lets customers buy items without checking they pay the right amount.
The Honesty Shop, created in November 2012 by 60-year-old hotelier David Waterhouse and his right-hand man Barnaby Perrin Aldous, arrived in Merton Abbey Mills this month and trusts customers not to take their stock without paying.
It represents a certain irony that in August 2011, looters broke into and plundered Colliers Wood two retail parks, the Tandem Centre and Priory Retail park.
But Mr Aldous said they decided to come to Merton Abbey Mills because the market had experienced a decline in footfall.
He said: “After a three month trial in central London we decided to try it here, which is convenient for David and I because we both live in south London.
“But it is also a good case study to help draw attention to a sadly neglected market community. It’s a sadly declining market.
“The problem with being next to a big retail park is that people do things all in one place. We want to offer something different and to encourage that community spirit that big chains just can not.”
The 50-year-old double-decker bus stocks alternative and independent gifts and household items, such as cosmetics made of bees wax, socks made of alpaca wool and children’s toys.
Most items are under £20 and 10 per cent of profits are donated to Compassion In World Farming.
Mr Aldous insisted the correct money is paid “99 per cent” of the time and some customers were even putting in an extra tip because they were enthusiastic about the concept.
He said: “People, families in particular, understand the price and that we are not making huge profits, but they also enjoy the experience of going to a cute gift shop in a bus and buying into that concept of honesty.”