Shops we love: Magnetix
One of the elements that makes Midland Park so successful is the presence of Magnetix, a specialist magazine shop, newsagent and takeaway coffee shop. It's a good combination, allowing you to browse their extensive range of magazines (whether you're into Diecast Collector, Fun-size Beano or Reptiles USA) while waiting for your coffee.
The shop opens right up to the park, so that even in bad weather, there's always a bunch of people gathered around their doors. Justice Park just up the road probably has better sun, but the absence of edge activities means that it's usually deserted except for lunchtime. This shop is a good example of how commercial activities often not only coexist with but actually enhance a public space.
Magnetix has got itself involved in a few controversies over the years, from battling for the right to sell coffee (somehow, Astoria thought it had the right to monopolise coffee sales in the park!) to selling that subversive organ Cigar Aficianado. It has now become so popular that they're about to open a second branch in Willis St near Unity Books, though the lack of a public space there to open up to will mean it won't have quite the same urbanist benefit that it does here.