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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Patrick Edrich

The 'little community' with heart and soul between Lidl and Tesco

Two elderly woman flag each other down from either side of Park Road, wait for the Arriva 82 bus to pass, before crossing the road at the traffic lights and embracing.

The women, one pulling a shopping trolley, speak for several minutes before hugging again and continuing on their way. Two mums in their twenties walk side-by-side, pushing along prams holding their young children.

A man wearing a cap and tracksuit shouts hello to a friend inside a barber's shop, before jogging over to the Tesco Extra, weaving in between traffic. The afternoon sun reflects off the bonnets of the cars and buses using the road that connects south Liverpool and the city centre.

READ MORE: Builders move in as well-know 'eyesore' landmark ripped down

It isn't busy and it isn't quiet. The car parks at the Tesco and Lidl supermarkets are half full. But still, while walking the pavements of the road that splits the L8 communities of Toxteth and Dingle, you feel a buzz of activity.

The face of Park Road has changed significantly over the years. The road used to be home to a number of pubs that brought life and energy to a road that at the time offered little else. The Royal Oak, Corrins, The Dingle, The Royal George, The Farmers Arms, The High Park, The Pineapple Hotel - were all pubs on or around Park Road.

James Gosling in the Globe pub on Park Road in Toxteth (Liverpool Echo)

Now there's only one - The Globe, which has sat at the heart of the community for more than 100 years. Speaking previously to the ECHO, manager James Gosling said: "The community has kept it going. The local customers, the regular customers, and things like that has kept it going.

"We wanted to try and keep it open as a tradition for the community. For those older people to be able to come out of the house for a couple of hours, socialise with friends and get to know other people who come in and out is a good thing."

Walking the pavements of Park Road, you can see the empty holes left behind by the removal of the pubs. Where The Royal George once stood is now just an empty, unused patch of grass.

Tesco Extra on Park Road has helped bring additional footfall to the area (Andrew Teebay)

But despite this, a number of independent businesses have moved to Park Road and now call it home. Fuelled by an increased footfall helped by the introduction of Tesco and Lidl, opened in 2011 and 2020 respectively, a community of unique businesses ranging from dog groomers and florists, to Romanian food stores and Syrian desert shops, line the road.

Walking up Park Road from Lidl towards the city centre, its hard to pass Kunafa House without being enticed in by the rows of shimmering deserts and pastries seen through the window. Trays of baklavas and piles of neatly arranged, brightly coloured sweets line the counter top.

Run by Alan Hasbiro and his dad Mohamed, the shop's goal is to bring a sweet taste of Middle Eastern culture to the Toxteth and Dingle communities. Specialising in kunafa, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made with spun pastry and soaked in sweet syrup, the pair learned the ropes of running a dessert shop on Granby Street.

Alan tells the ECHO : "There's a lot more footfall - so many people are about and the street is more active. The shop we've moved to now is three times the size of the one on Granby Street. It could get quiet from 6pm there as well but it's much busier in the evenings here."

Alan Hasbiro and his dad Mohamad run Kunafa House on Park Road (Jess Flaherty / Liverpool Echo)

Alan points to a sense of community on the road as one of the driving reasons behind why the sweet shop has seen success since it made the short journey over from Toxteth. "Most people here are welcoming. We knew a few owners here on Park Road and now we know pretty much everyone.

"We see a lot of new faces in the shop. There isn't something else like what we've got so there isn't much competition. People want to come and see what we're about. We're educating people about our culture."

While Kunafa House has only been on the road for a couple of months, other businesses have called it home for much longer. Khalid Alsanadi stands outside his shop looking at the TV monitor in the screen. A display of iPhone boxes fill the window and an LED sign with the words 'Fix It' flashes.

The bright yellow frontier of the Laptop and Mobile Repair Centre has stood almost opposite the car park at Tesco since 2011. Khalid explains to the ECHO that without the Tesco, a lot of businesses would not be there. "Tesco has bought more people to the area," he says. "If Tesco wasn't there, I wouldn't be here. It is very hard at the moment.

"A lot of businesses have closed because it is hard. Business rates have gone up and now with the cost of living lots of people are finding it difficult."

Park Road isn't a regular destination spot; a number of people who speak with the ECHO say it's not somewhere where people tend to go and browse the shops. Khalid says his business is kept going by regular customers who come to him for his expertise and quality control. He adds because of the road's proximity to the city centre a lot of people will make the short journey to get the service "two or three pounds cheaper".

"Everyone is finding it harder at the moment with the cost of living crisis," Khalid says. "I am okay but I worry for the people who are not working and on benefits. I will drop my prices if I can to help people. It's about helping everyone - not just myself."

Khalid Alsanadi from the Laptop & Mobile Repair Centre on Park Road (Andrew Teebay/Liverpool Echo)

Several shops up, Melissa sits behind the counter of Dallas Pooch Palace, her pet dog sniffing at her feet. The owner of the dog groomers, who did not want to give her surname, has been in the shop for five years, but grew up in the area. The building she sits in, with a sleek black sign adorned with the groomer's social media details, was built as an extension by Melissa's dad 30 years ago.

Like Khalid, she says the supermarkets on the street do bring in some additional footfall, but a lot of her customers are regulars or have been recommended her services. She said: "I've been in the shop for five years and have seen it change on the road. A lot of people have been here for a long time, so a lot of business comes from regulars and word of mouth.

"Some businesses may come and go but there's a really nice community feel. We're all friendly with each other - we'll help each other whenever we can." Melissa points to a recent example when a man from a shop further up the road came to help her when her shop shutter was jammed. She adds she feels safe on the road, and if anything was to ever happen to one of the businesses they would all be there to help each other.

"Sometimes it can be quiet on the road, but it's a nice place to work," she says. "Everyone knows everyone and looks after each other. You feel like you're part of a proper little community."


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