Acton: Shop couple moving on after 35 years of ‘open all hours’

SINCE Bob and Gill Hodgson set up shop in Acton 35 years ago, they have seen three other stores in the village close.

But not only has the couple’s enterprise survived, it has weathered two periods of recession and flourished despite challenging personal circumstances.

Now, due to health problems, the Hodgsons have reluctantly decided to sell their shop and three-bedroom house, so they can move closer to medical facilities in Bury St Edmunds.

Bob’s Stores, on Acton High Street, near Sudbury, which sells everything from food, sweets and newspapers to plants, vegetables, shoelaces and animal feed, has provided a living for three families since it opened 86 years ago.

Mr Hodgson, 64, said: “We are quite proud of the shop and the fact that it is still here after all these years. We feel that Mr Jacobs, who had the shop built in 1926, would also be really chuffed that it is still going strong.”

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They credit their ongoing success to long hours, hard work, the variety of items they stock and the support of the villagers. They are keen to get someone to take on the shop as a going concern, so it can continue to serve the local community.

Mrs Hodgson said: “We feel there are still a lot of prospects for the shop and there are a several opportunities we can see being developed by new owners. For instance, we started offering newspapers a few years ago, so opening on a Sunday for the papers could increase trade. New owners could also apply for a liquor licence.

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“There is a good chance for someone to make a living from the shop and we would be exploring all those avenues ourselves if we were able to continue here.”

Mr Hodgson, who suffers with the arthritic condition, ankylosing spondylitis, has had one hip replacement and is awaiting a second. He feels it is time to retire and move closer to West Suffolk Hospital, where he has regular appointments.

Before settling in Suffolk, during the 1960s, the couple spent four years in Australia. They moved to Acton in the 1970s with their daughter Sarah, and their twin girls Sam and Jen were born in the village. Tragically, they lost Sam five years ago, aged just 26, when she suffered a pulmonary embolism resulting from a deep-vein thrombosis. Mrs Hodgson said: “The main reason for us moving here was because we thought it would be a lovely place to raise a family, and that has certainly been the case. The village community has been very supportive and we have been here so long now that we are serving people who we saw as children, who now bring their own children into the shop.

“One woman told us recently that she doesn’t know how she’ll cope when we move away, and that’s very touching. We will certainly miss everyone.”

The shop and house are currently on the market.

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