Beloved bookshop makes cuts to hours after hit to trade

Treasure Chest Books in Felixstowe

Treasure Chest books in Felixstowe is one of the oldest and most loved in the tow, but is now at risk of closure. - Credit: HELEN BOTT

The owner of a popular Felixstowe bookshop said he would be "gutted" if he had to close as uncertainty around the Omicron variant hits the business.

Treasure Chest owner Martin Bott said currently the cost of opening is more than it is taking, with more sales recorded online in 24 hours than in seven days of trading.

The shop is one of the most loved and oldest in the town, as well as being one of the biggest second-hand bookshops in East Anglia.

Mr Bott said: “I’ve taken more money on the internet in 24 hours than I’ve taken in the last seven days in the shop, why have I got a shop open? It’s not worth it.

"In the last three days we haven't even covered our basics, rent, rates, lighting. That’s before we even pay any staff.

"The cost of opening it is more than we are taking.”

Mr Bott said there had been a decline in people visiting Felixstowe during what would be a busy build-up to Christmas. 

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He said: "You only have to look at the car parks in Felixstowe, they're empty.

Felixstowe high street at 1.30pm on the first day of the new Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions

Felixstowe high street has been "deserted" according to Treasure Chest owner Martin Bott, leading to the threat of closure for the second-hand bookshop. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

"I drive past the car park at the triangle every day, normally at this time of year it would be absolutely rammed, it’s half-empty, and that's on a good day, some days there's barely a car in it.

"I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s December, one of the biggest shopping months of the year, and the streets are deserted."

Mr Bott believes part of the drop in trade has been due to the uncertainty around the Omicron variant, but he also feels that the business has been let down by the government.

"In the last 12 months we were shut for the best part of seven of them through lockdowns, we did get some government support, we are now effectively locked down without any support."

He also believes that the new restrictions, including a work from home policy, will lead to "fewer people on the streets".

Mr Bott said he hopes a solution can be found to prevent taking the decison to close.          

He said: “I don’t want to close the shop; I would be gutted if we end up having to close.

“We will cut the hours next week, we’ll cut the number of days we open, and straight after Christmas we will probably just shut the shop and see what happens. If things do pick up, we may look at re-opening the shop again later, in the spring.”