A Kew Gardens convenience shop was saved from collapse by a customers’ social media post over lockdown.
Asif Virani, 39, who owns the newspaper shop inside Kew Gardens Station in Richmond, feared he would go bust when government restrictions meant commuters and tourists stopped passing through the station.
However, after a regular customer posted two weeks ago on Next Door, a website for neighbours to help one another, business soared.
The delighted shop owner said: “I feel the Kew community is like a family now.
“If you’re in trouble, they will help you out.
“I feel very lucky I live in this community.”
Virani explained he had no idea about customer Mike Jones’ post, and was amazed when people came from surrounding areas to support him, such as Twickenham and Brentford, after seeing the Next Door message.
Before it was saved, the shopkeeper had spent months worrying he wouldn’t be able to pay rent and bills for the shop, totalling over £20,000 per year, because tourists stopped visiting the famous Kew Gardens, which closed in March.
Research by Roadmender Asphalt found that two-thirds of Brits no longer feel comfortable travelling to work by public transport, and loss of commuter customers saw neighbouring shops close down.
Virani added: “I was very, very scared that the next time it would be me.
“But with the support of my community, I can continue because people are supporting me.
“Now I will do my best to help my community back.”
Over the past two weeks commuters have returned to Kew Station to buy coffee and the papers from Virani every morning, even though they’re working from home.
A crowdfunder was also launched to support the popular shopkeeper, raising over £1,000.
Virani grew up in India, and now lives in Hounslow with wife Shirin, 33, and seven-year-old son Aariz.
Before moving to the UK he worked as a teacher and said he enjoys testing children who come into the shop on their alphabet and times tables.