A POPULAR gift and textiles shop which has traded in New Milton for nearly four decades has become one of the latest casualties of the pandemic.
Mike Dacombe, proprietor of Station Road store Inspiration, said increasingly difficult trading conditions and costs such as rent forced him to make the difficult decision to close the doors for the last time.
Like many independent businesses, Inspiration felt the strain from the first nationwide lockdown imposed in March last year.
The reopening in June seemed to go well at first, Mike recalled, but he soon saw the pandemic’s impact on shopping habits. He said: “It became a fear and confidence thing.
“People came in to buy a specific item they had seen in the window and just paid and left. They didn’t seem comfortable just looking around the store.
“Somewhere like us is the sort of place people want to come in, have a wander and browse to see what’s new. I can’t blame anyone really, but the pattern of shopping has changed.
“We are having to consider fresh approaches to doing business, and for the moment a high street store is not the answer.”
When Mike opened Inspiration at newly-built premises in 1983 with his parents Gordon and Marjorie, it was one of the first UK stores to supply Danish and Scandi products.
The innovative stock, including colour-coordinated homewares, was inspired by stylings Mike and his family saw during regular trips to Switzerland.
“When setting up our own business we aimed to do something completely original with fresh ideas, hence the name Inspiration,” said Mike, whose career in retail stretches back about 50 years.
“We must have been doing something right, as we have had a highly successful business for all this time and built an extremely loyal customer base.”
Mike’s father worked as bookkeeper until his death and Marjorie took over, continuing until she retired from the business aged 93 three years ago.
Mike is now planning to offer an online service and provide customised favours and gifts at www.inspirationsgift.co.uk
He will also still supply the gift shop at the luxury Hotel Miramar near his Bournemouth home.
Thanking all the loyal customers the shop has seen over the years, he concluded: “It’s been one of the hardest things to do to let it go, but I’ve got to look forward.”