Tears for Green Onions as much loved health food and vinyl store set to close

Green Onions store. Pic: Chandni Doulatramani

Popular with local students and residents, a quirky New Cross store that sells both organic foods and vinyl records is shutting its doors for good.

Green Onions sits in a by-alley just across the street from Goldsmiths’ in New Cross Road, Lewisham and was particularly well frequented by its students and staff, who have expressed disappointment and regret at its closure after seven years in business.

Situated in Clifton Rise, Green Onions sells a range of products from organic spices and cold pressed juices to candles and greeting cards—all sourced locally. A section at the back of the shop brims with vinyl records from various genres including reggae, pop, jazz, and rock.

The shutdown comes after Green Onions was unable to negotiate terms of a new lease with the property owner. Nigel Finnis, who inherited the business after his son Steffan Finnis died in January last year. Finnis had been in talks with Ed Dowling, the landlord, but a disagreement between the two parties over renewed rent rates has sealed the fate of the business.

Green Onion’s manager, Patty Gambini. Pic: Chandni Doulatramani

Noa Geras, 25, a student of computational arts who recently graduated from Goldsmiths, told Eastlondonlines: “Green Onions is like an experience store—you can get stuff there that heals your soul inside out … like good music and good food.”

Geras, who only eats organic food, would travel to Piccadilly Circus from Brockley, where she lives, to shop at at the Whole Foods store there, unaware that Green Onions was almost on her doorstep. She discovered Green Onions by accident albeit a little too late.

“It’s a really sweet store. It’s a shame that they’re closing, especially because they have such nice things like Agar Agar that you can’t find anywhere, not even at Whole Foods,” said Geras.

For 20-year-old Daisy Miller, an art history student at Goldsmiths, Green Onions is a store she visits occasionally and buys vegan items in the spur of the moment that aren’t always available elsewhere.

“I usually just walk in and pick things up that I like. Their records are actually amazingly priced and they have a very interesting collection. I’ve probably actually bought more records than food,” Miller told ELL.

Closing down sign outside of healthfood food and records shop Green Onions. Pic: Chandni Doulatramani

Another Goldsmiths student, Ashley Deschonen, 22, said she loves Green Onions for their refillable items. It’s not everywhere that you can refill your shampoo or take your own bottle,” Deschonen told ELL, adding that it was convenient for her to visit often even if their items weren’t always cheap.

“This is kind of a specialty store and I come here whenever I want to treat myself to a fancy ingredient,” she said.

Green Onion’s regular, Ashley Deschonen. Pic: Chandni Doulatramani

Jamie Mockridge, 47, who makes and sells vegan kimchi, fermented hot pepper sauce, and pickled red onions, among other things, had been selling his products via Green Onions for almost two and a half years.

“It’s places like Green Onions that are part of the New Cross and Deptford DNA, which is made up of quirky idiosyncratic businesses. They’re not based on a massive business model, they’re very community based,” Mockridge told ELL.

He added that the closure of the store is “another nail in the coffin,” and that it “becomes more about the homogenisation of London when these kind of places close”.

Mockridge’s business, however, will not be too affected as 37-year-old Patty Gambini, who has been managing the store with her partner Tom since their friend and former business owner Stefan died, has arranged for him to sell his products at another store.

Gambini says Green Onions has been particularly hurt in the last couple of years. “The pandemic has really affected the business and the periods of holidays and strikes at Goldsmiths have made it worse as many of our clients are students from the college,” she told ELL.

Green Onions will close on January 28 and all their stock is on sale. Last month, two local businesses in the New Cross area shut shop after Goldsmiths cancelled its Enterprise Hub project.

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