Finnieston has always had a very real, very strong sense of community. It is the heart that connects the bustling city centre to the vibrant west end, and the neighborhood behind the city’s most iconic music venue. While trendy bars and restaurants have largely taken over the the main stretch there remains a part, reserved and off the beaten track, where community is still rife with life.
Accessible only through a gap in the tenement buildings, The Hidden Lane has managed to maintain it’s quirkiness and charm despite the gentrification of most of Glasgow’s “Finnieston Strip”. For the best part of the last decade you would only saunter down it’s cobbled path to visit “The Hidden Lane Tearoom”, and for far too many people that appears to still be the case.
There are over 100 businesses tucked away down the lane, and I caught up with social enterprise owner Lynne McNicol to see what they’re all up to in their various studios, workshops, and galleries. I met an assortment of artists, designers, collectors, health practitioners, instructors, and of course, still, the team in the hidden café.
I was surprised to find such an eclectic range of products and services available. Where else can you buy art, do yoga, purchase upcycled art supplies, and drink coffee in the same place? In The Hidden Lane you can not only buy handmade jewellery but learn to make it too. You can get inked, while your dog is at its suit/dress fitting, have a cupcake, then hit up a pain/coaching clinic. Suffice to say it has become quite the shopping oasis.
Each shop is filled with wonderful interesting items carefully curated by the local business owners who know exactly where it came from, how it was made, and who made it (if they didn’t themselves). This already makes for a standard of authenticity you wouldn’t find in homogenised high street stores.
They make the effort to talk to you, get to know you, and build a relationship with you making for a more enriching and satisfactory experience. The driving force here isn’t money, it’s passion, and the economic and social bonds they have made is a testament to the communities’ character, adding a touch of warmth to it all.
In instances like this, of course shopping locally will always yield a higher quality of product than mass produced rubbish that is based on a national sales plan. Supporting these businesses is far better for the local economy which, if it flourishes, we all do too. By promoting these enterprises we’re building a stronger community and maintaining an identity. No city wants its visitors seeing the same old shops they see in every other city around the world. And neither should we.
So next time you’re in the neighbourhood, pop in and say hi, and spend money, support the locals, and discover the many wonders The Hidden Lane has to offer.