Palmers bids its last farewell to Bury St Edmunds as hardware store closes
An iconic department store in Bury St Edmunds closed its doors for the final time yesterday bidding farewell to the town where it has been for the past 30 years.
And as shoppers were making a bee line for Palmers Homestore, in St Andrews Road South, to grab that final bargain its closure came three months after its fashion outlet in the Buttermarket shut with the loss of around 60 staff, many who have either retired of found new employment.
It was a sad day for staff who bid their farewells to each other with their manager Giselle Roadley-Battin firmly putting the loss of the store down to the internet.
There is a slim hope that it still has a future as part of mixed retail and residential plans at the site with a kitchenware unit on the ground floor. Planning permission was granted at the end of last year for an amended scheme of a 1,500 square foot shop and nine apartments.
Work will start at the beginning of May and is expected to be completed by spring/summer 2019.
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Mrs Roadley-Battin said: “It’s sad for Bury St Edmunds because Palmers did offer that point of difference in not just the product but also in the service and it fitted well in Bury St Edmunds.
“One of the main reasons is the internet; it’s the biggest major reason behind it because although we were a company who had lovely exclusive brands and very good brand names and were very competitive with our prices consumers think they can go on the internet and get it cheaper.
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“How would you like to go on the internet and then you have to wait for the postman and then it comes and it’s the wrong colour and then you have to take it back?
“You do all the sell talk and why they should invest in that brand and the quality of that brand and then they go away and get it on the internet.
“When it shuts later today they will lose a company that cared about their customers. It was not just the service we gave it’s the after service as well because if anything they bought went faulty or wrong we were there to help them.”
And asked about saying farewell to her staff the 59-year-old, who lives in Great Barton and who started as a window dresser at the fashion shop in 1978, said: “The hardest thing is that we are one big happy family and we work well as a team and it is very sad.
“Where is it going to end? Will it come around again? Is it like fashion? Let’s hope the high street comes back in fashion.”
She said the plans were to close the store last Saturday but the good weather led her to keep trading two extra days to get customers through the doors.
The closures do not affect Palmers department stores in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft and both shops will continue to trade.