Cupid’s arrow is shooting through south and east London this weekend. Many of you are planning to spend the weekend with your loved one – or maybe thinking of that certain someone. So EastLondonLines is also having a special weekend with a chance to let someone you love know how you feel.
We have devoted the whole site to news about Valentine’s Day and – for just 48 hours – changed our name to EastLondonLoves. We think it’s love-ly.
And we are giving you the chance to leave a special Valentine’s message for your loved one, whether you are spending the weekend with them or not. So send an email to your beloved – or perhaps someone you wish were your beloved – telling them what you are thinking, to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post them on the site overnight….
And, if you are off out tonight, consult our special What’s On guide – Love Events – to see what’s happening in your neighbourhood across east and south London tonight.
Local authorities and a host of other organisations are also in on the act, delivering anything from new public health initiatives to advice about dysfunctional relationships. There also a host of events linked to LGBT month.
Across the area, stores are hoping to boost sales after a difficult period have produced displays to celebrate love and woo customers.
In Blackheath Village, shop windows are turning pink and red. Local bakery La Petite Boulangerie Jade proudly shows off its romantic desserts in the form of a “Croquembouche”, a towering pile of choux pastries.
Next door, gardening store Hortus has decked the pavement with a miniature heart-shaped tree, twined with red beads. For the more traditional Valentine’s gift-giver, a blackboard advertises fresh flowers.
Gift shop 2nd Impressions has embraced the theme most enthusiastically, mounting a colour-coordinated display incorporating handbags, teddy bears, flowers and sweets.
Maureen Hancock, who created the display, acknowledges the importance of Valentine’s Day for the store. “We always celebrate in a big way here: Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter and Mother’s Day and we have a window for every occasion,” she said.
Across town, Brick Lane is beginning to show signs of romance. At the East Side bookshop, a nest of Valentine’s-themed cards and books takes pride of place in the centre of the window.
Retailers are not the only ones crossing their fingers for a boost in business. Retro bowling venue All Star Lanes is offering a Valentine Special: lovers can enjoy a two-course dinner, bowling and a cocktail.
One specialist store for which Valentine’s Day is particularly important is Shoreditch’s Bordello Lingerie Boutique, with a shop front of old-fashioned glamour which aims to tempt customers inside.
“Valentine’s is something that you can put something of yourself into – it’s more personal, you can do fun stuff, cute little pieces,” explained Federica Simbola, who works at Bordello. “It’s good, but it’s a lot of work because you get so many customers not knowing sizes. And then always, every year, the last day, guys freaking out.”
Federica said the lingerie industry has weathered the recession well. “People stayed at home more and everyone would like to feel pretty. So they come and buy lingerie.”
Richard Dodd of the London Retail Consortium said that while his organisation does not collect Valentine’s sales figures, he expects sales to grow in a number of areas such as cards, gifts, flowers and chocolates.
With hints of economic growth appearing alongside the beginnings of spring, local retailers are hoping 2010 proves to be a bumper year for romance.