Fight to save village shop looks lost

PUBLISHED: 08:50 19 September 2012

Nigel and Jill Bowles owners of Musbury Stores and Post Office who are putting up the closed sign for the final time next month. Photo by Chris Carson

Nigel and Jill Bowles owners of Musbury Stores and Post Office who are putting up the closed sign for the final time next month. Photo by Chris Carson

Archant

Musbury Stores and Post Office set to close next month unless a last minute buyer can be found

A long-running campaign to save Musbury Stores and Post Office looks doomed to end in failure.

The shop, which has operated on the same site for 100 years, is due to close next month, unless a last-minute buyer comes forward to save it.

The post office will be safeguarded with its transfer to the nearby Musbury Garage and Spar shop.

But the stores, which have been a focal point of village life for over a century, are almost certain to shut for good on Saturday, October 20 – with the building set to convert to a residential property.

This week some regular customers were said to have shed tears when they heard their efforts to save the business had almost certainly failed.

Owners Nigel and Jill Bowles first announced plans to sell up some two years ago. The couple have been forced to quit because Mrs Bowles suffers from progressive MS, which makes running the stores increasingly difficult.

Last year villagers launched a £90,000 appeal – backed by their MP - to buy the business as a community enterprise but the scheme was unsuccessful.

Now their only hope is for an 11th-hour buyer to come forward.

Mr Bowles said he did not hold out much hope of that happening.

“There has been little interest from prospective purchasers,” he said.

“We have had customers in tears about this.”

A spokesman for the village action group, which fought to save the business, said its closure would be “a sad day for Musbury”.

“The shop is not just a place to buy all sorts of essentials but is also a good meeting place for a chat and learn the gossip,” he said.

“I use the shop a lot and am not sure what I shall do when it closes – I may have to move house!”

He added: “A buyer is needed and I am quite sure there is one out there somewhere.”

Mr Bowles told The Herald the post office is scheduled to cease operation at noon on Monday, October 1. It should reopen at Musbury Garage a couple of days later.

Meanwhile he said they would continue to run the stores, Monday to Saturday, from 9am to 1pm, until Saturday, October 20, when they will close at for good at 1pm.

Daily dairy, bakery and newspaper sales will continue but at a reduced volume.

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