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.