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Traders warn Chard could become ghost town
1:30pm Wednesday 12th March 2014 in Somerset
A LACK of support, the internet, and the recession are being blamed for the closure of three Chard town centre shops this week.
The owners of the Wool ’n’ Craft shop, in Pig Lane, Shoe Time and Chard Surplus, in Holyrood Street, say their businesses will close in the near future.
They say the internet and online shopping along with a difficult time during the recession have left them with no choice and warn Chard could be turned into “a ghost town”.
Chard Surplus has been in the town for 22 years but owner Roger Marsh admitted they have been losing money for the last five years due to the recession.
He said: “People are saying they will miss us, now, but it’s too late. “We will close as soon as the stock is gone and this is not doing anything for Chard.”
Maria Goodland, of Wool ’n’ Craft Shop, said: “There’s nothing to draw people into Chard. We are not making enough money – it’s not viable to keep going.”
Maria, whose shop has been based in Pig Lane for six years, said she will be running reduced opening hours of 10am and 2pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and from 9.30am to 1.30pm on Saturdays.
She added: “This is going to stop people coming into Chard because there will be a lack of variety.
“It is going to become a ghost town; we are going backwards, whereas places like Ilminster and Axminster seem to be doing well.”
Shoe Time has been open for one year and owner Paula Middlehurst said they have not been supported.
She said: “There are too many charity shops here – parents are even buying shoes from those, which is unbelievable as everyone walks differently and the shoes will mould themselves to each person’s feet.
“I would like to carry on, but we can’t continue at a loss. There is no-one coming into Chard and there is nothing here to entice people in. It’s quite scary.”
Garry Shortland, chairman of Chard Town Team, said they are trying to bolster Chard for the future and added that there is help for business rate relief.
He added: “It’s unfortunate that the town council gets the blame for everything and the district council have a few different schemes and their officers are very keen to help people who are struggling.”
Chard Town Team’s annual general meeting is on March 26 and Garry said it is a chance for traders to come along and say what they want.
All the shops thanked customers who have remained loyal to them during their time in the town. l Looking on the bright side, a new shop has opened in Chard.
The Glitterpants Boutique, which sells hand-made craft items, is up and running in Holyrood Street.
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