The Changing Face of Retail

And so the news was announced yesterday that Cambridge was to lose its Clowns. Clowns is a Cambridge institution, for over 30 years, families, friends, academics and students have frequented this quirky, independent café in King Street. Cambridge will be losing thousands of smiles, a thousand intimate moments between would-be lovers, thousands of memories that will never be made. The gregarious Italian family that have welcomed every single customer with a smile and fed, watered and nurtured locals and tourists alike, will lose their livelihood.

Clowns Cafe Cambridge Small Business Support My Words Wok For You

Farewell to a Cambridge Institution Image credit: Flickr

Send off the Clowns

So Clowns, like most of the property in cambridge, is owned by one of the colleges, Christ’s College in this case.  The rent will be bordering on ridiculous and increasingly impossible for an independent to achieve. The changes in the retail landscape of Cambridge have been far from subtle, independent businesses are ‘dropping like flies’ while the giants with budgets to match, are fast becoming the face of Cambridge.

Use it, or Lose it

It’s my fault. Until a year ago, I found myself working in Cambridge for a client, I went in almost every day, and I found myself in Clowns on more than one occasion. I now have little need to venture in, Clowns haven’t had my custom for over a year. Yet now I complain. If I, and other shocked residents of this great city, want to keep these wonderful businesses that make Cambridge the jewel it should be, we need to support them. We need to go, walk right through the door, order a coffee, stay for lunch, and leave a tip for the wonderful service that has made them stand out from anything you would experience in Starbucks, Cafe Nero or Costa.


As a teenager, I would sometimes meet my mother in Clowns, she worked in King Street many moons ago. I was overwhelmed at the friendliness of the ‘girls’, their fabulous Italian accents, their amazing make up and their memories, they remembered you and all about you…Has that ever happened to you as you walked in to Costa?

To the Clowns family, who are now embarking on a journey of a different kind, I wish you well, thank you for the memories.

I do try not to ‘go on’ but I have more musings on the topic of small businesses surviving in this post.

About Nicola Dunklin

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