ONE of the few remaining shops on Callington’s high street is set to close after six years of trading, writes Kat Archer.
Victoria Eyton, a party supplies shop situated on Fore Street is to close its doors for the final time on September 30 as the owner blames new parking charges for the closure.
Owner of the shop, Tricia Stephenson says the new parking charges introduced by Cornwall Council in the New Road South Car Park and the removal of the first hour free parking has resulted in a reduced footfall of 40% forcing her to make the difficult decision to shut up shop.
This also comes as it was announced that the high street is set to see its bank close its doors later in the year. Tricia expressed ‘real sadness’ to see the business she runs alongside her daughter come to the end of an era.
Business owner, Tricia explained that there has been a noticeable reduction in customers coming in to the shop since the parking charges were introduced.
“Footfall fell between 25-30% in the first week of the parking charges being introduced,” said Tricia. “It even happened before then as people had it in their minds. Now footfall is down by around 40%.
“I didn’t think it was going to have such a big impact.”
Those parking at the New Road South car park now have to pay £1 for an hour of parking, removing the first hour of free parking.
For this local independent business owner, the charges have forced her to make the reluctant decision to close. Tricia highlighted that customers had voiced to her that making the trip to buy items such as a birthday card from the shop coupled with an extra £1 charge to park deterred them from coming in to the store with some saying that they would no longer be coming in once the new charges began.
For Tricia who opened the business six years ago this month, running it with her daughter Vicki, this has been a very difficult decision to make.
“Myself and my daughter started this business from scratch,” said Tricia. “I put tens of thousands of pounds into it and now this is all lost.
“My biggest concern was my daughter so that made the decision to close a whole lot harder. But I’m not prepared to watch it disintegrate.
“I feel anger, frustration and a real sadness as I feel I have let my daughter down.
“We got through COVID and Brexit, but we can’t get past the county council.”
Before the council introduced the new charges, a consultation was held to gather public opinion prior to the charges being introduced in May this year.
Tricia explained that she constructed an objection letter to the proposal voicing her concerns about the affect on local businesses and has since contacted Connor Donnithorne, Cornwall Council’s cabinet portfolio holder for transport.
Tricia continued: “During the parking charges consultation people were saying that they were not going to be coming in anymore and I relayed this in my objection.
“I spent ages filling out the consultation, objecting to the proposal. I had to keep cutting down what I had written as there weren’t enough characters.
“I contacted Connor Donnithorne to say that the customers were down 40% and I was going to have to close the shop but I never got a response.
“I think the council have made their mind up and they’re not going to do anything about it.”
Looking to the future, Tricia said that her daughter will try and continue the business online using Facebook and delivering locally. No the bank is closing, that was the last bit of footfall that we had. As soon as the bank said they were going to close that was it.
“There are other traders I know that aren’t going to be far behind. I can’t believe they’ve been so short-sighted.
“This time last year we were thinking about expanding as we were doing so well, but couldn’t move as there was a lack of premises.
“Now this is happening and I can’t believe it.”
The shop is currently running a discount sale where items have 40% off or more.