Craft shop owners pull out of shopping centre
A CRAFT shop has become the latest store to shut in Ashford’s Park Mall Shopping Centre.
MaRi Novelties says lack of business is forcing it to close on May 29 after three years trading.
Owners Margit and Bill Rigden blame the decision on shoppers deserting Park Mall in favour of the extended County Square Shopping Centre on the other side of the high street, which was revamped in 2008.
Both New Look and Next relocated to County Square from Park Mall and other Park Mall stores, including Adams, have since closed.
Mrs Rigden, 69, said: “Without those shops the outlets are not filled and they have blacked out windows.
“The place looks dead. That’s when passing trade slowed right down.”
The couple say MaRi Novelties was taking nearly £13,000 in its first year, but this fell to £8,000 the year after.
The shop’s lease is up for renewal but with trade declining the couple have decided to call it a day.
Mrs Rigden said: “We can’t risk it.”
Fears that their rent would also rise left the Rigdens with no choice but to close.
Town centre manager Viv Kenny said: “Ashford does continue to hold a lot of discussions with interested parties for all areas of the town and shopping centres.”
Mrs Rigden added: “Our customers are really upset and angry. We get no help; any independent shop doesn’t stand a chance.”
The couple now plan to open a craft outlet on Fridays and Saturdays in the Malthhouse Arcade in Hythe.
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Second Ruckinge Brownies wash the Aldington fire engine
William and Margit Rigden at Mari Craft Shop, which is closing down soon