Much-loved costume shop set to close in latest loss to town centre
- Credit: Judy Rimmer
In the latest blow to Ipswich town-centre shopping, much-loved costume shop Fancy Dress Hut is closing down after five years of trading.
Owner Jack Ablitt said one factor was the renovation of the Cornhill, which had affected access and footfall to the shop in The Thoroughfare, next to the Walk - including during the crucial Halloween period. He also blamed online competition from retailers such as Amazon.
“It was completely blocked off for a time and people had to walk all the way round to get to the shop,” said Mr Ablitt. “It’s quite upsetting really.”
He said that the shop had been affected by the work overrunning beyond the expected completion date.
Mr Ablitt added: “It’s also because of online sales which are hitting trading. Amazon is affecting everyone.”
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Halloween was normally the busiest time, he said, but trade had been hit by the building works, and Christmas trading had also been disappointing.
The shop, which has a huge range of costumes, masks, wigs and make-up, will be closing shortly, although the exact date has not yet been decided.
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Mr Ablitt took over the shop six months ago after working for the previous owner, Susie Patten, who launched the business in 2014. She originally opened it in St Stephen’s Lane, before moving it to its current location.
She said: “I decided to sell the shop during the building work. As well as the Cornhill works, there were works in the Buttermarket, the Walk and the Wharf - it was constant for about 12 months.”
She also said that competition from Amazon had been a major factor, and called for action to help bricks-and-mortar retailers compete. She suggested imposing extra taxes on online retailers.
“We need to keep money in Ipswich, in our community. Otherwise we are going to end up with a town centre that is just charity shops and hairdressers.”