Unhappy ending for bookshop
IT S the final chapter for a bookshop which is closing after over 70 years of trading. Burgess Books in Hitchin s Churchyard has crumbled under the pressures of growing competition, rising overheads and dying trade, leaving owner Ann Barrington, 64, conce
IT'S the final chapter for a bookshop which is closing after over 70 years of trading.
Burgess Books in Hitchin's Churchyard has crumbled under the pressures of growing competition, rising overheads and dying trade, leaving owner Ann Barrington, 64, concerned for the future of other small businesses in the town.
She is now calling for shoppers to "vote with their feet" and save local shops from closure.
Miss Barrington, of Heathfield Road, worked at Burgess Books for 32 years and owned it for the last 18 years.
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The shop has played an active role in the community, regularly promoting and advertising local events, and is one of Hitchin's oldest shops.
Business has, however, been getting worse by the month, until she finally had to shut her doors for good.
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Miss Barrington said: "The internet, supermarkets - everyone's selling books now and there's a big price war between sellers. Ottakar's (which opened round the corner in Market Place) was the last straw really.
"Saturdays became really dead for us and we had the worst Christmas ever last year and just lost thousands upon thousands of pounds.
"We can usually make up losses during November and December, but last year was exceptionally bad."
Four employees have lost their jobs as a result of the closure and Miss Barrington is seeking new employment.
She appreciates that the problem is not unique to Hitchin and said: "It isn't just this town, small bookshops have been struggling for years.
"Larger chain bookshops are targeting market towns now and small bookshops are dissolving.
"I think we could have held on if Ottakar's hadn't arrived."
Miss Barrington believes that their forced closure could have been put off if people had remained more loyal to Burgess Books.
She said: "Really it's money coming through the door, so it's about the public coming through the door.
"If the public don't want to lose their small, local shops, then they need to go to them.
"If it carries on going down this road there won't be many small businesses around, but I suppose bars and cafes are doing well, it's just the retailers that are a bigger concern.
"I think it's a national problem."
Town centre manager Keith Hoskins said he was sad to say goodbye to Burgess Books but offered reassurances to the future of Hitchin's business community.
He said: "There's always a concern, but Hitchin does still, to a certain extent, attract smaller businesses.
"There are a lot of small units around town and they are mostly full.
"Brookers, Gatwards, Hawkins, for example, have been here for years.
"Allingham's and Halsey's are both really old independent businesses.
"We're so fortunate in Hitchin that we still have independent butchers, delicatessens, grocers, markets, fashion shops. I cherish them and want them to thrive but there will inevitably be outside pressures on businesses.