Thursday, 23 September 2021

Shops lose custom as alleyway is closed

TRADERS in Henley say they are losing custom while an alleyway leading to their shops is closed.

TRADERS in Henley say they are losing custom while an alleyway leading to their shops is closed.

The passage from Market Place to Market Place Mews has been shut since Tuesday morning while work to widen it takes place.

The work, which is for the development of 14 new flats above the shops, is expected to last six weeks.

Revolution was forced to close last month because the wall of the shop was to be removed during the work.

Sandy Pascall, who works at Sno and Sun Gear, says trade has already slumped.

“It’s been awful,” she said. “People don’t even get to the shop before they see the passage is closed so they just turn around.”

Owner Penny Badenoch claims she may be forced to close the shop and make the eight part-time staff redundant if things don’t pick up.

She said: “I can’t operate like this — it’s appalling. I would close the shop but I would have to lay off the staff. I’ll give it to the end of the week to see if it changes.”

Mrs Badenoch, who lives in Benson, said she understood the work needed to be done but claimed it was poorly timed with Henley Royal Regatta approaching.

“We rely a lot on passing trade but there’s none at the moment because people don’t even come anywhere near the alleyway,” she said.

“I just hope our customers will continue to support us during this very difficult time.”

Vicki Smith, who helps run Vintage Look, which sells antiques and second-hand goods, said the shop had just nine sales on Wednesday compared with up to 80 on a normal day.

She said: “There’s rarely a time when there’s not one person in here. Once people get used to the passage being closed it will be back to normal because we’ve been here for four-and-a-half years and it’s a lovely shop.”

Mrs Smith, 64, from Sonning Common, said her biggest worry was about the Thursday market days when the shops benefited from the passing trade between King’s Road car park and the Market Place.

She added: “There are two people who have stalls in the car park just outside the shop and they are really worried.”

Eric Miche, who co-owns Stemtation florists, said: “We knew the work was happening but I think people aren’t aware we’re open so it would be nice for them to know that we are.

“A lot of people don’t know the alleyway is shut so they come from the car park and then have to turn around once they see it’s boarded up and they have to go all the way round.

“People are getting annoyed with having to walk back and forth. If I’m outside I tell them but I’m not always there.

“We rely a lot on phone and internet orders so it’s not too bad for us, although it is a lot quieter in the shop because it has become a dead end.”

Mr Miche, 40, from Reading, added that once the work was completed it would be better for the shops.

London and Henley Properties was granted planning permission for the work in 2010.

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