The recession still has local independent traders in its grip with the news this week that The Bo’ness Toy Shop is closing its doors.
The shop, which was opened seven years ago by sisters Lesley-Anne King and Fiona Frame, had been doing so well, that at one point they had to move to larger premises.
It was the women’s dream to open their own store in the town where they were born and brought up -but now the dream has crashed around them, with the store closing in January next year.
The sisters claim that due to the recession local people are buying online as it’s cheaper, rather than supporting their local stores.
Lesley-Anne said: “We have been hit particularly hard as we are a specialist niche retailer.
“At one point our competitors were Woolworths and Argos, now even Argos are having to fight their corner against the likes of Amazon.
“Because these multi-nationals have such huge buying power they can afford to sell for minimum profit due to the massive volumes they shift. We just cannot compete with them any longer on price margins, despite having cut our own profits to the bone in an attempt to survive.
“We have done our best to keep the shop running for as long as we could, but it’s soul destroying watching people come in to browse the stock, knowing as they walk out that they’re going to check prices online and the very real possibility that they’ll buy that item elsewhere.
“We’ve been running at a loss for the last two years meaning that my sister and myself have had to return to part-time jobs. We simply cannot sustain those losses any longer.’’
Alastair Mitchell, Bo’ness Town Centre Manager said: “I am absolutely gutted to learn that the girls are being forced to close the toy shop.They have been a huge asset to the town centre business community and will be sorely missed.
“It’s so disappointing to learn that this decision has been forced upon them as a result of the major retailers who have huge internet presences whittling away at the available profit margins.
“There really was no way the girls could compete in this market against the large supermarkets and specialist online toy stores.
“We are seeing this happen far too regularly and it’s through no fault of the independent owners.
“Local people need to remember that once these specialist independent stores close they won’t open up again. They really are the lifeblood of any high street and we all need to waken up to that.”