THE shopping streets of Ringwood are set to take a knock again, with several shops closing down after years of trading.
Residents say they are shocked and saddened at the news the popular Paperview bookshop is closing after seven years.
Owner Trevor Johnson says demand for traditional bookshops is waning in the face of technological advances, but that he’s had a great time running the shop, which also hosted high-profile book signings and talks.
Underwear shop Lolie and Bella is also closing down at the end of March, and its owner says poor trading over the last few months, plus high rents and rates, is to blame.
Even a complete overhaul has not saved Denise Davenport’s Prêt a Porter dress agency after 13 years - she is set to close up soon, too.
Gibbs Menswear is also closing down.
The news comes after Blockbuster went into administration and closed before Christmas, and we counted 19 closed up premises in the town on Tuesday, without counting the four closing soon.
However it is hoped many of the shops won’t stay empty for long - Carr and Neave commercial agents have agreed a sale at 13-15 West Street, and lets have been agreed at the former Shoe Zone in Meeting House Lane, Escape Hairdressers in Market Place and the former Streets Toyshop in Christchurch Road.
New money could also come into Ringwood if a new development for up to 175 new homes planned for fields off Crow Arch Lane, gets the go-ahead.
Sadly that will be too late for the shops closing over the next couple of months.
Karen Navarette of Lolie and Bella said: “I just haven’t had enough footfall. I had a tough autumn and winter season and I just took the decision not to keep battling anymore.
“I am closing at the end of March and yes, it is sad but the high rents and council tax has made it difficult for me keep going.
“I have had some amazing customers and I am really sorry to be going.”
At Prêt a Porter Mrs Davenport said: “I am devastated. This shop has been my life for the last 13 years and despite every effort and support from the community, I am so sad that it has had to come to this.
“It will be so hard to say goodbye to all my lovely customers who have supported the shop for so many years.”
Paperview owner Trevor Johnson said that his decision to close was a personal one and was not a tale of high street woe.
He said: “We will be open all through February and into March. We have had seven lovely years with wonderful customers and last year we put on some great events.
“But the writing is on the wall for bookshops in general with the advent of technology.
“If people want to come in to say hi or bye that would be very nice. We may organise another event before we close.”
Already Ringwood’s Facebook page has been inundated with people sorry to see the bookstore close.
Jim Stride said: “The Stride family used Paperview quite a lot and we prefer to browse rather than trawl the internet for books.”
Laura Morjaria said: “The service in Paperview is excellent. I have had some great books recommended to me by the staff there.”
Pret a Porter customer Sandra Castle said: "I have lived in Ringwood all my life and over the years I have seen so many changes.
"The High Street has gone and is now full of coffee shops. It's such a shame."