The Owl and the Pussycat, in Northfield Avenue, Northfields, shut its doors for the final time on Saturday after its owners felt it was not making enough money.

Walter and Bee Wyeth blamed customer apathy as one of the reasons for their decision to call it quits – citing one day last week when the shop had eight customers and took just £35.

Speaking to the Gazette on Saturday afternoon, just hours before shutting his shop for the final time, Walter said: “The footfall here has fallen. It’s not as busy as it used to be, we are the first to go and I fear for other independent businesses in the area. It’s sad that this has happened after nine and a half years.

“Northfield Avenue used to be so buzzy and vibrant, but that has changed over the past 12 to 18 months and I don’t know why. It’s dormant and all very flat. Business is flat, the people are flat, it’s demonstrably quieter.

“2013 was a dismal year for us. You rely on your Christmas sales to keep you going for six months but that didn’t happened. We tried sales in January but it’s not picked up. It’s rather upsetting. We’ve put so much in, built a business up, and realised we can’t make money or survive.”

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He believed the internet and websites such as Amazon affected book sales, but said other products sold at the shop, such as board games, also failed to sell despite being cheaper than online stores.

He said: “It’s not just the internet, in the end it was the decline in customers. One day last week we had eight customers and took £35. We just thought we can’t carry on. So we started a sale last Monday and virtually everything has now sold, which is why we closed on Saturday.”

Many of the books in the sale were sold at a loss, and Walter and Bee have had countless customers tell them they are desperately sad to see the shop close. But Walter says the community must do more to help independent businesses if they are to continue trading.

 

He said: “People have to know if they don’t support their local independent stores they will lose them.
“We don’t have the clout of big chains and businesses. Small businesses rely on their customers.

“People have their own financial restraints and have not been able to support us. I don’t see the shop’s closure as a failure. It’s not our fault we’re going to the wall, it’s circumstances.”