Much-loved Ipswich shop West End Music to close permanently

West End Music in Norwich Road, Ipswich, is closing down

West End Music in Norwich Road, Ipswich, is closing down - Credit: Paul Eagle

Long-established Ipswich store West End Music is closing permanently - with the owner describing it as a "very tough decision". 

James Garden, owner of the Norwich Road store, said a number of factors have led to the closure, explaining "the lockdowns certainly haven't helped".

"We have been closed for eight months out of 12 and it hasn't been viable," said Mr Garden. 

James Garden, owner of West End Music, pictured in store with a life-size model of “Jot the robot”

James Garden, owner of West End Music, pictured in store with a life-size model of “Jot the robot” created by local artist and craftsman Darren Ritchie - Credit: James Garden

"Also, as with many other people, my mental health has suffered during lockdown and it has become quite stressful running the shop."

Mr Garden also works as an artist and illustrator, under the name JG Mind Doodles, and intends to concentrate on this in future.

He started working at the shop in Norwich Road, which sells a wide range of musical instruments and equipment, 17 years ago and has owned the business for the past five years.

Mr Garden said: "I want to thank every one of my customers who has supported my business and me personally over the years. They truly all mean the world to me."

The West End Music team at Christmas 2018

The West End Music team at Christmas 2018 - from left, Puiver Chan, James Garden, Harley Cotton and Brian Booker. Puiver and Harley later went on to other things - Credit: James Garden

Following the announcement on Facebook that the shop will have its last day on Saturday, comments have been pouring in from customers. 

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One person said: "I can't believe this. You've been a musical rock to all the musicians in town and further afield."

Mr Garden paid tribute to Brian Booker, who owned West End Music for 25 years before he took it on.

"Brian has been my mentor and looked after me, and he gave me a job 17 years ago, when no one else would. He has been incredible."

Before it became West End Music, the shop was known as Whitmores. Mr Garden is asking people to post their memories of the shop over the years on the shop's Facebook page.

He said: "Although this is very sad news we all need to remain positive. It’s been a year of lots of negativity and I’d love to hear any stories you have about your past at West End Music or when it was previously Whitmores."

Jason Alexander of Rubbish Walks and James Garden working on their children’s book Blip and Boom: Crash on Planet Trash

Jason Alexander of Rubbish Walks and James Garden working on their children’s book Blip and Boom: Crash on Planet Trash, which is still in development - Credit: Jason Alexander

Looking to the future, Mr Garden has set up an art website, after he began creating digital artworks in 2017 while suffering from depression and anxiety, and has inspired others to use art to help their mental health. 

The talented artist created the illustrations for a children's book by Rubbish Walks CIC boss Jason Alexander, which is still in development, following a pair of friendly aliens in their quest to escape Planet Trash.

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