Owner devastated to be closing Icklesham shop

Icklesham Village Store. SUS-160803-071353001
Icklesham Village Store. SUS-160803-071353001

The owner of the only shop in Icklesham is devastated to have close due to a lack of support and competition from the big supermarkets.

Karen Clarke and Dexter Martin have been running Icklesham Village Store for four years but thanks in part to the opening of Aldi in Ore, it will be shutting down on Thursday, March 24.

Despite attempts to galvanise the village community into saving its only store, nothing materialised and the couple took the tough decision to close.

“It will be a massive loss for the village,” Karen said.

“It was very, very hard to make that final decision to close but at the end of the day we can’t financially support it anymore.”

The shop’s revenue was growing year on year since opening in 2012 with a growing customer base and popularity.

But after Aldi opened a year ago, the owners have seen losses of up to 40 per cent, which Karen and Dexter could not maintain.

“The village had been without a shop for such a long time and for three years, it was working brilliantly, nothing major but we were doing okay,” Karen said.

“But Aldi came and it went the other way, we can pinpoint it to when they opened.

“At least half of the village have never been in the shop ever and if you’re coming from Hastings then you’re going to go there instead with its big car park.

“Plus the bus goes straight outside Aldi so elderly people with free bus passes can easily get there.

“The petrol prices are going down so it’s not expensive to take the car either.”

The pair appealed to the community asked for help before Christmas as there was a strong possibility then that they might have to close if things did not improve.

But the business owners have not got the help they needed.

Karen said people were sorry to hear it but it is too little too late.

“We have warned you and you have chosen not to do anything,” she said.

“It’s a case of thinking someone else would do it but in the end no one did it.”

Karen believes the shop has been really good for the village as it has provided a hub for the community and even improved the housing market.

“As a meeting point and as an information point, the shop’s been great.

“It’s affected the housing prices as when we first opened, estate agents were calling us saying we had put Icklesham back on the housing market but now we’re taking it back off.

“It’s going to be a big blow, for the elderly who may not see anyone else from one day to the next but popping to the shop gave them a reason to go out and see someone.

“It’s very frustrating as the big boys can come in and do what they like without a thought for the little shops.

“But we have watched the figures for a year, we didn’t make this decision overnight and we’ve battled with the figures but we thought we are killing ourselves for nothing.”

People were upset to hear the shop would be closing on Facebook as the Icklesham Village page adminstrators wrote: “Sad news & a big loss to the village.

“From Icklesham page admin we would like to thank Karen and Dex for their wonderful efforts over the last four years for giving the community a shop and bringing the community together.

“Also for their donations to local children groups and the kindness they have shown to others.

“We wish them the very best for the future.”

Karen said they have a strong core of customers who will miss them and she is grateful for their help in making it this far.

“Overall I have enjoyed it. It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of long hours but most of the time you expect that,” she said.

“But when you ask for help and support then nothing comes you think, why do we keep breaking our necks if the support’s not there?

“But on the whole, it’s been good as I’ve seen what’s done for the village – it’s lived again.”

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