FOR the past 36 years, Derek Last has supplied outdoor lovers from far and wide with guns and country wear.

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Once one of three gun shops owners in Bury St Edmunds, Mr Last has for years been the only remaining gun shop - Anglia Arms - in the town.

He has now announced his retirement - heralding the end of an era for the west Suffolk market town.

Speaking about his decision, Mr Last, 68, said he was sad to be closing down his Risbygate Street store, which stocks guns, fishing tackle and count apparel, but felt now was the right time.

“You do get to know lots of people over the years,” he said: “Virtually every day we’ve been getting people saying they are sorry to hear I’m going to retire.

“Kids who used to come in with their grandads when they were five or six years old have ended up becoming my future customers.”

“As a gun shop we are finished,” he said. “The banks are not lending people money, the rates have gone up and there’s only so much you can charge the customer. I have been paying the 2.5% VAT since it went up to 20%.”

He said the golden age for his gunshop was when the old cattle market, in what is now the Arc shopping centre, used to operate.

Attracting farmers and country people from across the area, many used to pop into his shop to stock up on supplies.

However, the market’s closure impacted on trade. While he has many loyal customers, Mr Last has decided to retire from the business.

“I just decided to go down this route - I just want a clean break.

“We’ve had a good steady trade over the years though we have had better times in the past.”

Asked what he plans to do in retirement, Mr Last said he was as yet unsure.

He faces a very busy few months as he closes down his store and manages the biggest sale of stock they have ever had.

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