Fresh appeal to save village shop

PUBLISHED: 18:20 18 October 2007 | UPDATED: 21:50 29 May 2010

Shop assistant Irene Morris outside Stebbing Stores – Pic: Michael Boyton

Shop assistant Irene Morris outside Stebbing Stores – Pic: Michael Boyton

VILLAGERS in Stebbing have until Christmas to prove they want to keep their last remaining shop or it will close for good. That is according to the owner of Stebbing Stores, Stewart Lait, who last week had posted notices in the shop window stating that th

VILLAGERS in Stebbing have until Christmas to prove they want to keep their last remaining shop or it will close for good.

That is according to the owner of Stebbing Stores, Stewart Lait, who last week had posted notices in the shop window stating that the shop was going to close due to lack of business.

"We were going to close it due to lack of support, and we advertised that," said Mr Lait who has had the High Street based shop for two years.

"Now, after receiving many messages saying how much people in the village needed the shop, we have restocked and it will remain open.

"But," he added, "people must use the store if it is to remain open. I can't continue to run it if people don't use it. I have told people that and, hopefully they will now use us more than they have in the past."

Mr Lait will give the shop until Christmas. If it isn't being used by villagers by then he says he will have no other choice than to close it and turn the building into flats.

Peter Hall, Stebbing parish councillor, said: "This is the last shop in the village and it would be a great shame if it had to close.

"If it did go, I don't know what many people in the village would do, especially the older ones, as the next nearest place to buy anything is Felsted, Rayne or Dunmow.

"Unfortunately, the public transport in the village isn't the most frequent service in the world.

"However, if a village shop is to survive, people have to use it. You can't expect a business to continue to run and offer a service if there are not enough customers to keep it going."

Stebbing resident Tracy Gibson, of Oakfield, said: "I heard last Friday when my daughter Tessa told me. We use the shop at least a couple of times a week.

"It's really handy for those bits and pieces you always seem to need. The staff are very friendly and are always very good with the children when they go in there. I would be sorry to see it go."

Stebbing has seen a steady decline in the number of its stores since the mid to late 1970s. In 1977, there were two pubs, a post office, bakery, butchers, petrol station, hairdressers, antiques shop, and two general stores including the one that now remains.

If that closes, it will leave just one pub.

Mr Lait said if business picks up enough he will look at modernising the store citing the One-Stop in Dunmow as the sort of thing he has in mind.

However, he stressed that ultimately, at the end of the day, it is down to the villagers of Stebbing to decide if they want their village store to remain open by using it.

- WHAT do you think? E-mail us at editor@dunmow-broadcast.co.uk

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