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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Brampton's last gift shop to close due to rent rise

Brampton's last gift shop will close at the end of March – another victim of rising rents.

Jane Atkinson photo
Jane Atkinson

Jane Atkinson, 46, will shut down her business, Simply Gorgeous Gifts, after six years of trading because she says she can’t afford to pay increased rent demands from her landlord.

“I’ve been in business here for six years and I’ve put my heart and soul into this business,” she said.

“But my rent has been doubled and the increase has been backdated two years. The rise means I can no longer make a living. I have no option but to close.

“My worry is that come my next rent review in April, it will go up again. So I’m calling it a day.”

A sign offering the premises for let to a new tenant has been put up outside the shop by her landlord, Brampton Masonic Lodge, which owns all the business premises behind the Moot Hall in Market Place.

Adjoining businesses have successfully renegotiated revised rents but for Jane the increase has proved to be the last straw.

“The rise means an annual rent of £7,500. I know it doesn’t sound like a fortune – other businesses struggle with higher rents than mine. But it has tipped me over the edge.

“I never made a fortune. But this was a business and it worked for me and for Brampton.

“I’ve had to borrow money from my husband’s business to pay the backdated sum and in all honesty, I don’t think I can make enough now to draw an income.

“I maxed out four credit cards to buy stock for the shop when I refurbished last year and opened a fashion department upstairs. I’ll close with debt but I truly can’t see any alternative.

“What I need now is a job from which I can earn some money.”

Jane’s husband is a self-employed lumberjack and the couple live in Moatside, Brampton. She opened the shop after a career in childcare. She was a play development worker for Longtown Sure Start and also worker with pre-school children and in local nurseries.

“I have skills and I hope they’ll help me find a job. But my plan for now is to close up and take some time out to clear my head before leaping into something new.

“But it is sad that Brampton is losing its last gift shop. I started selling women’s clothing when Eyecatchers closed. The owner Viv Jefferson, who retired, was pleased I was picking up on gifts and fashion where she had left off.

“The Box Room gift shop also closed last year as did Give It Gifts. I’m the last. It’s such a shame. I have had wonderful support from locals.”

Paul Robbins, chartered surveyor and agent for the landlord, said: “We’re sorry to see Mrs Atkinson go – she has been a good tenant.

“Revised rents have been negotiated and are being paid by the adjoining properties. Ultimately, the closure is her decision. I am actively seeking a new tenant for Jane’s shop now.”

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