Residents fight to safeguard shop

RESIDENTS in an historic market town are concerned about the future of a traditional hardware shop which is soon to go on the property market - and could launch a bid to buy it themselves.

By David Green

RESIDENTS in an historic market town are concerned about the future of a traditional hardware shop which is soon to go on the property market - and could launch a bid to buy it themselves.

Regular customers of the shop in Eye have organised a meeting to discuss what they can do to help ensure the business survives, and the options to be considered include forming a co-operative to buy the property.

The Handyman shop is one of the last surviving old style hardware shops in Suffolk, supplying garden equipment, DIY materials and tools, crockery and pet items.


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It has been run for the past 25 years by Oliver Green who also provides a delivery service.

Mr Green said yesterday: “We have been informed that the property is going up for sale but it is unclear as yet whether it will be as a going concern or for some other use.”

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Uncertainty over the future of the shop has prompted a group of regular customers to get together to organise an informal meeting to discuss possible action.

Barbara Walker, spokeswoman for the group, said: “We hope it is not going to close. It might sell as it is but there is a risk it could be turned into something else.”

Mrs Walker said one of the possibilities - if there proved to be a danger of the shop closing - might be its purchase by the local community.

“We have already lost our fresh fish shop and our theatre in this town. Things like this are gradually disappearing and we would not want the Handyman shop to also be lost,” she said.

The property is owned by a company run by Richard Hogg who lives in Diss.

He confirmed yesterday that the property was to be sold. “We have not yet decided how the property will be offered for sale. It is part of company policy that this particular property is going to be sold,” he said.

Eye mayor Simon Hooton said: “The Handyman shop is one of our greatest assets here in Eye.

“The quality of staff is known throughout the land. Ollie and Fred are the most wonderful, helpful shopkeepers. I'm sure it is something everyone in Eye wants to keep going.”

The “informal” meeting of concerned residents is scheduled for the Lindsay House restaurant in Eye on Monday at 7.30pm.

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