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Another empty shop for seaside town after trader decides to cut overheads by drastically downsizing

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:19 09 January 2020

Sheringham shop owner Cliff Morris, who is dramatically downsizing his business after 33 years of trading.
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Sheringham shop owner Cliff Morris, who is dramatically downsizing his business after 33 years of trading. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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The owner of a prominent Sheringham shop has decided to drastically downsize after 33 years of trading, claiming the changing face of the high street and rising overheads have made running an independent business “unsustainable”.

Whistlestop, Sheringham. The main part of the building on the left is closed, with business owner Cliff Morris continuing to trade from the small shop on the corner (right).
Photo: KAREN BETHELLWhistlestop, Sheringham. The main part of the building on the left is closed, with business owner Cliff Morris continuing to trade from the small shop on the corner (right). Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Cliff Morris, who owns Whistlestop, in Station Approach, took over the business - then a thriving newsagent and confectioners - in 1986, expanding over the years to include a photo lab, an ice cream parlour, an off- licence and a hot food and drink takeaway.

However, as from this month, he will be trading only via a kiosk-sized corner of the large building after deciding not to renew the annual £20,000-plus lease on the main shop.

Sheringham shop Whistlestop in the 1950s, when it was a tobacconist and confectioners. 
Photo: JOHN FAIRWEATHERSheringham shop Whistlestop in the 1950s, when it was a tobacconist and confectioners. Photo: JOHN FAIRWEATHER

"We have got through two recessions and survived, but, over the past two years, there have been dramatic changes," Mr Morris said. "Footfall has died and people's weekly trips to the bank or daily trips to buy bread or milk just don't happen."

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Trading in a seaside town had benefits, he added, but while Sheringham boasted an unrivalled programme of events and tourists flocked to the town in the summer months, even holidaymakers' shopping habits had changed.

"What happens is that even people staying in caravans have their online shopping delivered, they aren't spending in the high street and for many small businesses, with the cost of rent and rates it just isn't sustainable," Mr Morris, 59, said.

Whistlestop, the loss of which will leave an empty shop at the main entrance to the town, is the latest in a string of Sheringham businesses to close, with Hastings greengrocers, Fudgetastic, Never Be Famous clothing store, and Rallentandos café also shutting their doors in the past six months.

"It is a shame and, after putting so much time and effort in, I am sad to lose all that, but unfortunately it is the way things are going and we all have to change and adapt," Mr Morris said.

He will continue trading as Whistlestop from the corner of the building, and, after more than three decades of 5.30am starts, the grandfather-of-four is looking forward to taking life a little easier.

"That part of the building was a little tobacconist and confectioners called the Corner Shop in the 1950s, so, it's quite nice as, in a way, it has come full circle," Mr Morris said.


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