In collaboration with

After more than a year of lockdown, the UK has finally re-opened again. Notion teamed up with Havana Club to check in on the corner shops that provided a lifeline to their local community.

It feels like a long time coming but we’ve finally made it through. ‘Freedom Day’ finally came and went, with the UK returning to ‘normal’ – whatever that means.


Amidst the excitement (and nerves) of returning to a life we once knew, it’s important to remember those who carried us through the darkest moments. That’s why Havana Club wants to continue shining a light on the local stores that supported our communities throughout lockdown.


As we became more familiar than ever with our local areas over the last year, we learned the importance of community and championing our neighbourhoods. Whilst the pandemic kept many of us apart, it also brought us closer together.

When the fevered toilet roll-buying panic of Lockdown 1 left many supermarket shelves bare for weeks on end, the local corner shop had our backs.


When we were afraid to travel too far from our homes in Lockdown 2, the local stores provided a comforting constant.


In Lockdown 3, when we missed our friends and family and yearned for a friendly face, the smile of our local bossman could always brighten our day.


We might not have realised it, but Britain’s off-licenses were more than just a shop – they were an essential service and a sanctuary that provided a semblance of normality in a year of unprecedented change.

Notion and Havana Club took the time to meet the owners of Ishi Express in London’s Hackney. A family-run business, they’ve been operating the store for almost eight years.


Whilst the last year was challenging, the owner said that he relished the opportunity to make his customers happy.


Hear Ish Express’ story below.

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