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Boxford: Village hopes to retain remaining village shops

PUBLISHED: 12:04 25 March 2014

Richard Gates at Boxford Stores

Richard Gates at Boxford Stores

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Hopes are high that a popular Suffolk village can retain at least two of its three shops which are currently up for sale.

Boxford’s newsagents closed on Saturday after the store’s owners failed to find a buyer to take it on as a going concern.

Boxford Stores, which currently houses a shop and post office, has also been on the market since last May. The Grade II-Listed building in Swan Street is believed to be Britain’s oldest shop with a trading history dating back to 1420.

Joy Stowe, owner of the Boxford Village Store, who has worked at the Swan Street shop for 48 years, is also looking to retire this year and has put her business on the market.

District and parish councillor Bryn Hurren said Boxford’s shops were vital to the village and surrounding hamlets.

While there is uncertainty surrounding the future of three of Boxford’s long-serving businesses, Mr Hurren said he hoped buyers could be found to carry on running the post office and the Village Store, which took on the newspapers after Boxford News closed at the weekend.

Mr Hurren said: “Losing the paper shop is a real blow because trade there has been very good over the years.

“It has been there a very long time and people who still keep pulling up there to buy their papers can’t believe it’s shut.

“However, it is almost certain that whoever takes over Joy’s shop will keep it as a going concern and I remain buoyant about a buyer being found for the post office.”

Mr Hurren said Boxford needs to retain its shops and businesses if it is to remain a “viable and sustainable village”.

He added: “Boxford also serves as a hub for all of the other little villages around it. With the mix of news, general stores and post office, it’s quite a major shopping centre for the surrounding rural area.

“I remain optimistic that a sale can be agreed for the post office.”

All three of the shops currently up for sale have been running for decades and have come on the market either due to the owners retiring or passing away and bequeathing the businesses to people who are not in a position to keep them running.

According to Mr Hurren, who has been behind a push for more affordable homes in Boxford, more young people must be attracted to the village to help keep it vibrant.

He added: “It’s very important that we get more young people to come in, take an interest in the future of the village and support the businesses here.”

Richard Gates, postmaster at Boxford Stores, initially came to the village as a boy in 1955.

He is also a strong advocate of affordable housing to keep the village “young”.

He said: “If everyone in the village resolved to spend just £1 a week in the local shops – for instance by buying an apple from the Village Store or a chop from the local butcher – then it would enable the businesses to keep afloat and this in turn would help to keep the community vibrant.

“It really is a case of use it or lose it.”

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