History to be saved? Warwick’s time capsule Victorian shop may win reprieve
DESPITE being due to close this week, hopes have been raised for a last minute reprieve for a shop in the middle of Warwick that still looks the same as it did in Victorian times.
Television, radio and national newspapers all picked up on The Courier’s story about The Period Shop in Market Place - which bares a resemblence to the famous Two Ronnies fork handles comedy sketch. And because of the publicity, its has sold more reproduction brass fixtures and fittings in the past month than it has in the last year and a half.
Charlie Collett, the manager of the Grade II listed building which dates back to the 1840s still can’t believe how busy he’s been. He’s even begun learning how to use social networking sites like Twitter in a bid to get into 21st century retailing.
Most older residents of Warwick remember the hardware shop as Wylies. Its interior has hardly changed since 1895. But trade has dwindled in recent years which led to the present owner of the business, Simon Holloway, taking the decision to give up the lease he took over 12 years ago from the last of the Wylie family.
Mr Holloway already owns two other successful Period House shops in Ludlow and Shrewsbury and all three businesses marketed items online. Last month he decided he could no longer continue to subsidise the Warwick business where trade was only a third of what it needed to be to remain viable.
Since then Mr Holloway has been invited to talks with local MP Chris White and Cllr Michael Doody, chairman of Warwick District Council, both keen to see what could be done. He’s also appeared on Central Television and Radio 4’s You and Yours programme.
The shop was due to close yesterday (Thursday) and be completely cleared by November 3. This hasn’t put off interest from several potential new leasees keen to occupy the building which has a rent of some £20,000 a year.
The latest twist came on Tuesday when Mr Holloway revealed that while it was unprofitable for him to continue owning the business, he was trying to help Mr Collett to organise some sort of financial package that just might allow his manager to take over the lease. He was also prepared to continue supplying the traditional hardware items that customers with character properties came to buy.
Mr Holloway explained: “I have had talks with several people, including the leader of Warwick District Council and the local MP. The shop is not economically viable for me but perhaps if I could help Mr Collett stitch up some sort of financial deal then he could perhaps keep it open.
“I always felt it would be a crime to change that wonderful interior - it would certainly be a loss to Warwick.”
The difficulty for Mr Collett is that he is trying to take over an established business. He would be eligible for lower rates and rents if he started a new business. This week he was holding 11th hour discussions with agents acting on behalf of the locally-based owners of the building, Cobalt Developments.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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