Win a shop competition victors forced to close their stores in Chippenham
The winners of Chippenham’s ‘win a shop’ competition have had to close down as their rent-free six months draws to an end.
Karen Jones and Anne Rudd opened in Borough Parade on September 1 after submitting shop proposals for two empty units.
But Miss Jones said despite footfall in Chippenham increasing after they opened, her dream has ended because the rent at the central shopping parade is too high.
Miss Rudd described the experience as a nightmare because of costs such as high parking charges.
After the rent-free trial, both shop winners were to be offered a formal lease.
But, while both are continuing to trade online, Miss Rudd moved her business on March 1 to Corsham where the rent is cheaper and Miss Jones is looking for different premises in Chippenham.
Miss Jones’ shop, Vintage Couture 77, sells vintage designer clothing and bridal wear, and Miss Rudd’s shop, Jim and Jemima, sells home-made children’s clothes.
Miss Rudd, who was a television costume designer before she won the prize, said: “It was awful. I couldn’t pay myself anything. Even without the rent you’ve got utility bills and you’ve got to stock the shop. I had to pay £36 a month just to park my car.
“Chippenham’s not a place people go to for Christmas shopping – December was worse than November.”
She is now sharing premises in High Street, Corsham, with All The Pretty Things Ltd and will open at the end of the month.
“I think Borough Parade did better out of it than we did because we attracted new shoppers in,” she said.
Miss Jones, who has a background in management consultancy, said: “The magazine Property Week said footfall in Chippenham increased by 11,000 in the first week we opened.”
She said she had been delighted to win and it enabled her to turn her hobby into a viable business.
“I was very keen to stay in the same location for at least a year to test the market, but I couldn’t reach an agreement with the landlord to renew the lease long term,” she said.
Dominic Moore, of Borough Parade asset managers Mountgrange, said: “Many Borough Parade retailers have been performing well – with most stores reporting sales at least the same and, in many cases,
better than last year.
“We contributed the shop units, helped to fit them out and covered all the occupational costs for six months.
“We naturally expected them to contribute time and their own money.
“It is a shame that neither business was able to make a commercial success of it at Borough Parade, but we wish them all the best.”
Vintage Couture 77 was named Start Up Business of the Year at Chippenham Bus-iness Awards on March 1.