December 12 2013 Latest news:
By Matt Hunter
Saturday, September 14, 2013
It has made tens of thousands of children’s dreams come true – but a toy shop which has been trading for more than 100 years is set to close.
The owner of Simpsons Toy Shop in Stowmarket has said he will be forced to shut because of a lack of trade.
The store, in Bury Street, sells a huge variety of traditional toys but has found market conditions tough for the past four years.
Owner Ernest Baker, 73, said it would be a “sad day” when the shop is expected to close its doors for the last time in early November.
He said: “Trade has slowly been going down in the last four years and I have decided that enough is enough, but if I could find someone to put more money into it I would sell it as a going concern.
“People come in and have a look at my prices and then go out of the door.
“I do not want to close it, but if it comes to it and it’s not making any money then I will have to.”
Mr Baker inherited the shop about 15 years ago from his late wife Coral, who had managed the shop and was the last member of the Simpson family to do so.
Mr Baker’s son, Phil, 39, said independent stores like Simpsons could not compete with people shopping on the internet.
“The numbers coming into the shop have dropped; it used to be packed,” he said.
“We’ve approached staff for ideas and set up a website two years ago but we cannot cope with the big boys like Amazon for price.
“A lot of people get free postage and packaging – how they do that, I do not know. If we did, there would be a loss.”
He added that the town as a whole was going “rather quiet”. “I’m amazed with the amount of shops that are not here.”
He said the family had been trying to resist the option of shutting up shop and had looked at alternatives for the store but it is set to close in around two months’ time.
Seven generations of the Simpson family have worked at the store.
Mr Baker said he remembered relatives talking about the shop having its first premises near the current Royal Mail office in Ipswich Street when it was called W Simpson & Sons.
After an initial time trading there, the shop moved closer to the town centre near Market Place in 1892 before moving to its home in Bury Street in the 1930s.
Over the years the store has greeted famous sporting faces such as Ipswich Town legend Mick Mills and former boxing champion Frank Bruno.
Sharon Brown, from Stowmarket Town Centre Partnership which works to get more business in the town, said the closure is “sad news”. “We are really disappointed to hear that they are not continuing,” she added.
“The problem is getting people to cross the road from Ipswich Street into Bury Street. Our challenge as a partnership is getting people to realise what’s there.”
A campaign to save the shop has started on social networking website Facebook.
People have taken to the “Save Simpsons Toy Shop in Stowmarket” page to express their sadness and to rekindle memories of the toys they bought.