Craft shop own­ers pull out of shop­ping cen­tre

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Danielle Cheney dch­eney@thek­m­group.co.uk

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.

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, Kent TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@t hek­m­group.co.uk

Sec­ond Ruckinge Brown­ies wash the Ald­ing­ton fire en­gine

Pic­ture: Gary Browne PD1701667

Wil­liam and Mar­git Rig­den at Mari Craft Shop, which is clos­ing down soon

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