The unique, niche shopping experience which Chiswick has long been famed for is dying according to shop owners and campaigners fighting to save it.
The situation is so grave that three Chiswick councillors have joined with traders to set up a taskforce to tackle what they are calling the "crisis facing independent shops".
More than 20 shops are currently lying empty in the town.
Abode, Vape Emporium, London zu, The Parlour and Whisk are among the stores that have closed in recent years.
Diane Barden has run De Joli, a women's clothes shop on Chiswick High Road, for 29 years but says staying afloat is becoming impossible due to huge rent increases, high business rates, outdated leases and competition from retail parks.
Ms Barden, who originally came to the UK from Baghdad when she was 17 and previously worked at prestigious department store Harrods, said: "I can't even afford to employ someone in my shop now. It's tough for the high street giants at the moment so you can imagine how tough it is for smaller shops.
"They say it's because everything is going online, but we can't be competitive because of the rents and taxes we pay.
"Customers are very price conscious these days and they don't have disposable income to spend. In Chiswick you get people living in million pound houses who haven't got any real money.
"I've campaigned against business rate for years. Why are they doing this to us, why couldn't they just apply a tax on sales or something?
"Landlords want a return on the value of their property so every five years my rent doubles, or goes up by 40%.
"It's very frustrating but nobody's doing anything about it."
She added: "Chiswick is dying. The only way you can keep a small shop going is by trying sub-letting. There needs to be limits on what landlords can ask for."
Councillors Joanna Biddolph (Turnham Green), Patrick Barr (Homefields) and Gabriella Giles (Riverside) are working together, and with Chiswick traders, to try and stem the decline in the number of independent shops in Chiswick; and reduce the numbers of new shops that set up then fail.
Ms Biddolph said: “It is clear that current rents, said to be the market value, are the market value for failure.
"We’ve seen new shops open then close a few months later, the shop owner having lost six-figure sums on buying their lease; fitting out their shop; recruiting and training new staff; trying to build trade; and paying enormously high business rates for nothing in return.
"As for longstanding independent shops, some have closed recently, and others are under threat, unable to make a business case for the enormous
hikes in rent their landlords demand.
“With chains moving in, and on roads that have traditionally been independent-led, Chiswick is at risk of becoming a clone town or a ghost town."
Ms Biddolph said that currently one shop is being advertised at a rent and rates that mean it would have to make £3,000 per week just to stay open.
She added: "If every resident were to make small but permanent changes to their shopping behaviour, buying from independents, it could ensure our independent businesses survive."
The campaign has four aims:
1. To influence policy makers, nationally and locally, to ensure that policies support, rather than hinder, independent retailers
2. To explain to landlords and agents that huge leaps in rent drive out independents and are changing Chiswick’s shopping streets and character for ever
3. To guide businesses looking to set up shop in Chiswick on how to make a success of it
4. To persuade residents and visitors to change their behaviour and put independent shopping on their shopping lists.
Mr Barr added: “It’s so easy to dash to a supermarket to buy everything there without a thought.
"Yet, nipping to an independent shop or stall brings other rewards – a chat with the owner, advice on what to choose, a more extensive range, surprisingly competitive prices – and it supports a business that brings character and difference to our lovely area.
"We have so much choice in Chiswick but many businesses are under threat because we just don’t use them often enough.
"The cliché 'use it or lose it' could not be more apt.”
The task force team has had preliminary discussions with a number of business owners, organisations that underpin independent businesses’ success, and individuals who have offered expertise and skills to support and promote Chiswick’s independent shops.
It is drawing up an action plan now with local businesses.