The Harmony chain of licensed London stores has seen changes in recent weeks. Firstly, due to redevelopment of Walker’s Court in Soho, the company’s three-room shop there has been reduced to a single room, losing approx. 35% of its floor space in the process. The redesigned store has needed to condense stock down somewhat, but additional shelving – recycled from the Lovejoy shop on Charing Cross Road – has split the shop into effective areas while increasing available display area. It’s not expected that the shop will return to its former size once redevelopment work in the area is complete.
Away from the ‘gentrification’ of the heart of Soho – which one adult shop worker described as “Boris cleaning Soho up, it’s all going to be wine bars” – Harmony has returned to Charing Cross Road at the east of the area, not far from where the chain’s third branch once stood. It was closed several years ago as part of the London Crossrail redevelopment of the east end of Oxford Street, where it meets the famous Centre Point tower. The chain’s other branch remains on Oxford Street itself.
The new store has taken over the Lovejoy sex shop site at the end of Old Compton Street, on the corner where it meets Charring Cross Road. The two-storey location lends itself to a ‘softer’ top floor with books, clothing and toys, plus a basement selling fetishwear, bondage goods and R18 DVDs. Harmony boss Jamie O’Sullivan showed ETO’s Paul Smith around a few days after the branch opened in late November, and pointed out the many changes which had been made. Large partitions in the cellar have been removed to maximise space and a comprehensive overhaul of fixtures and fittings – as well as redecoration – has recently finished leaving Harmony CCR the newest and perhaps most elegant licensed shop in London.