Top Hat fancy dress shop to close after 30 years in Norwich
- Credit: Archant
The party is over for a fancy dress shop which has been supplying costumes to the people of Norwich for more than 30 years.
Top Hat, in St Benedicts Street, will close its doors for the final time on March 18 bringing to the end years of Halloween outfits, party wigs and scary masks.
The decision to close was a difficult one for sisters Kirstie Pope and Nicky Wigger, who took the family business on following their mother's retirement, but after poor Halloween sales in 2016 they felt it was time to move on.
'We've known for a few years that it has been on a decline and we had such a poor Halloween and in this kind of business we rely on Halloween as it can keep us going for the rest of the year,' said Ms Pope. 'The supermarkets like Morrisons and the Range were stacked out with Halloween costumes so if everyone steals a little bit of our market there is just not enough.'
Other factors leading to the decision included the economic climate, the growing online market and demand for expensive licensed products and characters.
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The sisters announced the closure via their Facebook page at the beginning of the month and there has been a surge in support both online and in the store.
Rachel Robinson wrote: 'Really sorry to hear this. Buying online is always a risk and can't compare to your excellent customer service we have had when we come to see you.'
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Liam Carolan said: 'You guys have been marvellous over the years and Norwich high street will miss such a friendly local shop with so much expertise and great service.'
And Tracie Nemeth added: 'You guys have been my 'go-to' place since I was a kid.'
Top Hat is currently in the process of a closing down sale with hundreds of items at reduced prices including animal costumes, novelty shoes and period pieces.
Ms Pope said the response to the closure has been phenomenal.
'It has been amazing and has just been so touching, it has been incredible the amount of support we have had,' she said. 'We are currently asking people who have hired a costume from us in the past to post the picture on Facebook as we want to preserve the memories.
'The Facebook page will continue running as we want to have that to look at and reflect upon as we have had some really good fun doing this.'
Serving the city for 30 years
Top Hat was born more than 30 years ago when Carole Pope rented out a stall on the St Benedicts Indoor Market and started selling vintage clothes, something that was growing in popularity in the 1980s.
But she was a keen sewer so decided to start making fancy dress costumes and hiring them out.
As the family business started to grow Top Hat moved away from the market and set up shop on St Augustines Street near the Anglia Square shopping centre.
Mrs Pope's daughter Kirstie then came into the business in 1997 due to her mum's retirement and in 2004 they made the move to the current premises on St Benedicts Street.
Kirstie's sister Nicky then joined the firm two years later.
Over the years trends have come and gone but the ones which have always been at the top of people's list when they have arrived at Top Hat were 1960s, 1970s and pirate outfits.
And in more recent years party goers have been on the hunt for Iron Man, Captain America, Freddie Mercury and Rod Stewart costumes.