Another nail in coffin of rural traders
By Dave GooderhamA GARAGE owner who has been forced to close after almost a century of business has spoken of his fear for the future of village traders.
By Dave Gooderham
A GARAGE owner who has been forced to close after almost a century of business has spoken of his fear for the future of village traders.
Mike Chambers, owner of Curtis Brothers and Co filling station, said he had no choice but to close the well-established garage and shop in Lakenheath, blaming a lack of trade and a change in shopping habits by villagers.
Mr Chambers said: "It was a tough decision and a sad decision, not just for myself, but for villages across Suffolk where shops are closing all the time.
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"It is a sad situation and it isn't going to get any better. With things like internet shopping, people who live 100 yards from a shop are not going to come out and use it.
"There has been a demise in village life and trading patterns as very few people work locally anymore. My regular customers are very sad, but the trouble is I haven't got many regulars."
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His decision was compounded by vandals who caused £750 damage in three separate attacks at the High Street garage since Christmas.
"The vandalism speeded my decision up a little, but the main reason for me shutting the garage is that I am getting near 65 years old and it is time to call it a day," said Mr Chambers.
The garage, which closes on Wednesday, was opened as a village shop in 1908 by Henry Flatt before the first petrol pump was installed 16 years later.
Having worked at the garage for almost 40 years, Mr Chambers remembered when the filling station was the hub of the village.
"The garage used to be an old village meeting point where people liked to congregate like the local farmers and retired villagers," he said.
"That was when everyone worked within a fairly short radius of where they live. Now more people live in villages, but they do not work there. I have seen tremendous changes in my time, but not many for the better."