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Family business with history across Norfolk set to close final store

PUBLISHED: 23:27 08 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:01 09 September 2019

James (left) and Glen Clarke at Nobby's discount store in Wells, which is set to close. Picture: Archant

James (left) and Glen Clarke at Nobby's discount store in Wells, which is set to close. Picture: Archant

Archant

A family-run business which made its mark throughout the county is closing its last surviving store.

Glen Clarke at Nobby's in Wellington Road, Dereham, in 1977. Picture: Archant ArchiveGlen Clarke at Nobby's in Wellington Road, Dereham, in 1977. Picture: Archant Archive

Nobby's discount store, which has graced towns across Norfolk since 1967, will soon be no more following the imminent closure of its premises in Wells.

Having traded in the town for more than 30 years, the shop's lease is set to expire on September 29 and owners Glen and Steve Clarke have opted not to renew.

Their penultimate store, in Sheringham, closed on Christmas Eve 2017 after a substantial drop in business left the brothers with little option but to cut their losses.

As shopping patterns constantly evolve, Glen Clarke said it was the right time for Nobby's to say goodbye to its loyal customers.

Steve Clarke at the Nobby's store in Sheringham, which closed on  Christmas Eve 2017. Picture: Karen BethellSteve Clarke at the Nobby's store in Sheringham, which closed on Christmas Eve 2017. Picture: Karen Bethell

"It has been on and off the agenda for a while now and, with the current financial climate, we have decided to sign off peacefully," said Mr Clarke.

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"It's obviously a really sad time, perhaps saddest for the people who come in every day as we won't be here for them. For a lot of older people, coming out to the shops is a release and the only time they'll leave the house.

"This has been a big part of our lives and the lives of people who have shopped in our stores over the years. In some ways you feel you are letting your customers down."

Glen Clarke at Nobby's in Wellington Road, Dereham, in 1977. Picture: Archant ArchiveGlen Clarke at Nobby's in Wellington Road, Dereham, in 1977. Picture: Archant Archive

The opening chapter of the Nobby's story began in the early-1950s, when Glen and Steve's father, Leonard, traded at markets around Norfolk.

He opened his very first 'Clarke's' discount food and homewares shop in Bury St Edmunds in 1954, before later changing the name because "everyone just calls you Nobby", according to Glen.

The first Nobby's store opened on Wellington Road in Dereham in 1967 before moving to the High Street and, over the years, the family has also operated in Swaffham, North Walsham and Diss.

As the family gets set to pack up and move out, Glen says the departure of Nobby's is a sign of the times.

James (left) and Glen Clarke at Nobby's discount store in Wells, which is set to close. Picture: ArchantJames (left) and Glen Clarke at Nobby's discount store in Wells, which is set to close. Picture: Archant

"What's bad for the town is a lot of shops currently shutting in the same street," he added. "Shopping patterns have changed a lot and people are simply not buying anything in the town itself.

"Wells has been affected significantly since the Co-op opened as people go to do their shopping there and just don't come into town."

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