Pandemic spells end for gift shop in New Milton high street after 38 years

inspiration new milton
Mike Dacombe Is closing Inspiration after 38 years’ trading

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

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.”



  1. Hi, are you sure that is the correct website address? I’ve clicked on the link and it connects to a website build page?

    I’d hate for the shop owner to miss out on custom due to an error in the name.


  2. I’m so sad to see Inspiration close down. I’ve lived in New Milton for 34 years and have often bought gifts for family or friends and even myself from this shop. It was always a joy just to browse leisurely, listen to the ambiance music and have a chat with the owner, who always wrapped everything so beautifully. I for one shall miss it. I can quite understand how small shops like this would find it uneconomical to open up after being forced to be closed for such a long time. It is such a shame and I wish Mike all the bst in his new venture online.

  3. I’m totally gutted when I visit our holiday home at Shorefield I always went there to shop and Mike was always so helpful with advice and on styling – such beautiful displays so so sad to see it close 😥 wishing Mike every success with online but it won’t be the same in New Milton without him xx

  4. Hello there,

    I walked past your shop this morning and if possible, I would like to buy two of the dried flowers for £2.50 pence each. Also, you had three blue cushions, which I would also like to purchase, if they are not already sold?

    Kind regards

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