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Last greengrocers' shop in Helston closes after supermarket competition

By WBGraeme  |  Posted: April 24, 2014

Sisters Paula Nicholls and Debra James outside Fruit & Veg 4 U in Meneage Street, Helston. Picture: Keith Richards

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HELSTON’S last greengrocers’ shop has been forced to close due to competition from out of town supermarkets and poor footfall.

Sisters Debbie James and Paula Nicholls made the difficult decision just before Easter to close their award-winning shop Fruit and Veg 4 U in Meneage Street, and shut for the last time on Tuesday.

One of their final acts was to pass an order for 400 lily of the valley flowers for Flora Day to florists Sweet Pea – avoiding a potential disaster for many Helston families.

The pair thanked loyal customers and said it had been an emotional and difficult decision to close.

“We’d just like to thank all our customers,” said Ms Nicholls. “We’ve really appreciated their custom over the last three years. I’ve been able to work with my sister and it’s been a great laugh but sadly it was not meant to be.”

The closure of Fruit and Veg 4 U is another blow for the town centre and Meneage Street in particular, which has lost long-standing shops Clarks and the butchers Oliver’s within the past year.

Ms Nicholls added: “It wasn’t an easy decision. It all comes down to footfall in the end.

“We really felt it after the butchers closed. Ever since Christmas we’ve been waiting for it to pick up. We kept saying, ‘It’ll get busier’ – but you can only go so long.”

She said it was not just the big stores like Tesco and Sainsbury’s that have been tough competition, but also discount retailers like Lidl and local veg-box schemes.

“We’ve been keeping a close eye on Lidl,” she said.

“It’s always busy down there and they are selling some of their veg cheaper than we can buy it in.

“People are doing veg boxes from home and we just can’t compete.

“We know people only have a certain amount of money to spend but I don’t know what this means for our town centres.”

She said saving the lily of the valley orders was the least they could do and did not want to let anyone down.

“At least we’ve not spoilt anyone’s big day,” Ms Nicholls added.

Last year, the sisters were awarded the Lizard Peninsula Friends of the Earth John Mackay Award for supporting local producers and providing an alternative to supermarkets.

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  • yetanotherfak  |  May 29 2014, 11:15AM

    I have just read about the Helston shop. However it is the same sorry tale for ALL the town centres in our country. The problem is GREEDY and STUPID councils who continue to believe that it is a good idea to double yellow line everywhere and charge a fortune to leave a car. This is 'justified' as 'road safety', 'anti congestion' and 'environmental' but what it actually means is 'lost jobs', 'dull and empty' town centres with only pubs and cafes left. Eventually people just stop using them. Eventually the British public might wake up and smell the stench this is causing. Two things are needed. First. The businesses in the area need to get together. They need to tell the council that FREE car parking is what is needed and the double yellow lines and other restrictions need to be gone. Second. When the council ignores the businesses as it inevitably and always will the businesses need to move onto the next step, this is closure, ALL business should get together and close their doors, all of them, shut up for a month. The council will find they earn nothing from the car parks and might start to wonder about their actions. Businesses will say they can't afford such action, but to be honest they will be forced out of business if they don't act so they might as well get on with it now. While you are at it also refuse to pay rent - thus forcing landlords to think as well. e) People in the area need to stand for election as independent on a promise to abolish the charges and restrictions. And people from the area need to vote for these candidates. Frankly, in local government as in national you get what you deserve, if you are too unthinking, too stupid, too inactive to change your voting pattern then why the hell should your ';representatives' give a damn about you and do something for you instead of for their own back pockets????? BTW Haven't you heard about the recent hacks on big and important websites. What do you think about requiring people to 'register' in order to comment? Are you not worried about being hacked yourself? Perhaps people here would like to be able to comment without a rigmarole involving filling in speils of rubbish and answering 'validation emails' ... who benefits? You? You now have to store that information and keep it safe? The police (/surveillance) if I was going to post something stupid and damaging surely I would not use my real details... so what would they gain? Pointless and annoying is what it is. BTW It is also a VERY annoying method of verification that leaves you entering stacks of info , undoing checkboxes for signing up to **** you don't want and going through spam check BEFORE the form contents are checked... you should fire the website designer