A much-loved stall in Stevenage Indoor Market has been forced to shut for the final time after three years at the venue.

Monkey's Emporium, which sold vintage and retro toys and collectibles, closed for the final time on Saturday, April 1.

Daniel Emery, who ran the shop, is looking for an alternative location in Herts and hoping to open a new shop soon.

Daniel opened the shop in the market three years ago with his sister, Leanne Sara Osbourn, who has sadly since passed away.

The Comet: Daniel is now looking for alternative premises to open a new shop.Daniel is now looking for alternative premises to open a new shop. (Image: Daniel Emery)

He says he "struggled to keep it going in her memory", and "felt it was important to keep the legacy going".

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"During lockdown I couldn't open, but when we could open and then got locked down again, we had to pay the full rent without being able to trade from the premises.

"Takings were substantially down and the business in the market never really improved. Footfall decreased dramatically.

"There is a lack of advertising for the market. It's unfortunate because I've lived in Hertfordshire all my life and I always remember going to Stevenage on market days.

"But it seems to have taken a backseat now - you've got independent businesses which are struggling to survive because no one knows they're there.

“There can be days where you’re there for the entire opening and you barely see a soul other than other traders."

The Comet: Daniel will be sad to leave the indoor market, which he says is like a family.Daniel will be sad to leave the indoor market, which he says is like a family. (Image: Daniel Emery)

Daniel has set-up a GoFundMe page to help him establish a new shop and make the venue as accessible as possible.

He says: "I have a lot of customers with autism or other disabilities, and I want to be able to provide a shopping experience that is accessible and inviting to everyone.

"The GoFundMe is to help us achieve that, and to be able to offer, for example, private opening for people who don't like being around lots of others."

Daniel hopes that the new venue will allow him to be more flexible with opening times, too, and plans to stay open until 7pm rather than having to close at 5.30pm as was the case at the indoor market.

However, he will be sad to be leaving the indoor market - he says "it's like a family there", and he'll still be supporting the other traders there.

To donate, go to gofund.me/78938112.

In response to this story, a Stevenage Borough Council spokesperson said: “Town centres everywhere are facing a challenging time at present.  Since the pandemic and throughout the cost-of living-crisis we have seen that shopping habits are continuously changing and it’s important for our High Streets to keep up with these.

"Stevenage has a packed event schedule throughout the year, many of which are being hosted in Event Island and the Town Square - these types of free days and other educational sessions will naturally bring shoppers and visitors into the town, increasing footfall and positively impacting on our economy.

"Alongside these events we do continuously promote the indoor market throughout the year to raise awareness of the different stalls located here, plus there are three free parking days above the market in St George’s multi-storey car park.

"We continuously support the traders and ask our residents to shop locally and support the market too.”