Furnishings and collectables store that became a magnet for geeks is now closing
PUBLISHED: 18:18 28 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:18 30 January 2019
A store that has built up a geek following and is also popular with those on the autistic spectrum has announced that it is set to close.
Fun & Funky Furnishings, on Orwell Place in Ipswich, has been a treasure trove of “geeky furniture and collectables” for the last two and a half years, run by Paul Richards, a 49-year-old from Castle Hill.
He puts the imminent closure down to the retail slump, which is putting pressure on shop owners across the UK.
“Retail is not what it was,” Mr Richards said. “It’s such a pity because what’s kept me going for the last few months is that everybody says it’s their favourite shop. But let’s face it, we are all guilty of buying stuff online.”
When Mr Richards first opened his shop two and a half years ago, he did a roaring trade in selling small plastic figurines from America called Pop Funko Vinyl, which at that time could only be found in two stores in Ipswich.
“They are now the biggest collectables in the world,” he explained. “They made up half of my business - but now you can’t walk into a shop without tripping over them. The Entertainer is selling them cheaper than I can buy them wholesale.
“It’s a similar story with HMV, which was the other place you could buy Pop Vinyl – it’s over-saturation of the market.”
Aside from the collectibles, Mr Richard’s most popular products have been his own handcrafted “geeky” furniture and frames.
Mr Richards says what he will miss most when the store closes is all the geeks who pop in for “a geeky chat”.
“I should have opened up a geeky coffee shop really. It’s more the community aspect that I will miss,” he said.
“The nice thing is, I get a lot of customers who are on the autism spectrum and they don’t feel comfortable going to a lot of other places in town.”
Although Mr Richards has not had to pay business rates for his store, as it was under the rateable value, he says that paying the rent and the electric has been a source of constant worry.
“Electric is twice the price than to power your home,” he said. “I have never taken a wage from this place, it’s all gone into the business to build it up. But over Christmas, we made half the money we did the year before.”
Mr Richards will stay open until his landlord finds a buyer for the premises, and a closing down sale is on the cards. But Mr Richards is not giving up in business however, as he will still crafting furniture which he will sell online. “I may rent a space in other people’s shops,” he explained.