Town centre stores ‘lacking in diversity’

Shoppers have voiced their frustration over a lack of diversity in Sudbury after it was revealed a charity shop would be replacing Millets.

The outdoor clothing and camping store in North Street, which has been set for closure for some time, is to be taken over by Sue Ryder.

The charity, which provides care for people living with long-term illnesses such as brain injury, multiple sclerosis, dementia and motor neurone disease, has confirmed it will open in April.

But the news has divided opinion in the town, as many feel a lack of choice is driving shoppers away.

“You could fill a whole street with the amount of charity shops we have in town,” said Angela Hart on the Free Press facebook page.

“I’m sick of charity shops, hairdressers and fast food outlets. What we need is kids clothing shops, or a big department store, otherwise more and more people will travel to other towns.”

Claire Aliperti agreed saying she regularly took her business elsewhere due to a lack of good clothes shops for her young sons, while there were calls for businesses rates to be lowered to encourage other shops.

Julie Sharman, who used to run Retro Time in Friars Street, said a line needed drawing on the number of charity shops – which now exceeds 10 – in the town.

“We need proper shops,” she said. “I brought my shop to Sudbury, but had to close as I could not get to the high street due to rent and rates.”

Despite the negativity there was support for charity shops, which can apply for a mandatory relief of 80 per cent on business rates.

“I would rather have 10 more charity shops than empty shops,” said Ali Burke. “It is not the charities’ fault that Sudbury lacks diversity. We’re in a recession and for years people have abandoned small local shops in favour of the big chains.”

Julie France, manager of the British Heart Foundation in Market Hill, said charity shops do “amazing” work.

“I have had my own shop in town, but now work for a charity,” she said. “The reason we do it is to help the people that really need it.”

Yvonne Whitehead, area manager for the Sue Ryder charity , said the new store would to offer a “fabulous” shopping experience.

“Sue Ryder promises to be the place to shop in Sudbury, with proceeds going to help provide specialist hospice and neurological care,” she said.

“This is a really exciting retail development for us and will raise much needed money to support our care services.”

The new store will employ three people, but is seeking volunteers to help out.

“We are recruiting volunteers to help with everything from sorting and preparing stock to merchandising and sales and are also appealing for people to donate good quality clothing, books and bric-a-brac,” added Mrs Whitehead. “Local people can help us to make a real difference to the lives of those we care for.”

To volunteer visit www.sue ryder.org.