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Reluctant farewell to "smashing" independent Haverfordwest DIY

Published: 19 December 2012
A 22-year-old DIY store in Pembrokeshire will close for good tomorrow (Thursday, December 20) - marking the sad demise of a "wonderful business" for owner Malcolm Walker.
The Haverfordwest DIY Centre, which split its focus between DIY goods and a picture framing service, opened on Snowdrop Lane in 1990 after Mr Walker bought it as a going concern. "It always was a successful business," he told DIY Week, "but gradually, since around 2008, it has become less viable."

Troubles began for the DIY store when the local council opened a large shopping development on the other end of town. "We found we were losing a lot of customers, not because the shops there sold the same products, but because people couldn't be bothered to drive all the way there for something and then come back to the shops around here," added Mr Walker.

Other shops in the area have also suffered, owner of neighbouring business Cartlett Home and Garden Supplies Brian Richard decided to retire in September, and now opens only a few days a week to sell off the rest of his stock. "We've actually seen less customers since Cartlett closed because the two businesses used to complement each other," said Mr Walker. "There were a few items we both sold so we did overlap, but we had a good working relationship.

"I don't think it is the DIY industry which is seeing a decline in customers," he added, "it's the independent shops who can't afford to compete with the big boys and the internet. There are two other smaller independent DIY stores nearby who I think are still doing alright, and I think that's because they are in a better location. Yes, passing trade has declined, but the demand is still there.

"With the big retail developments being built out of town and business rates going up there is a real danger town centre independents are going to be edged out."

Haverfordwest DIY employed three workers in addition to Mr Walker, who had served the business six, 16 and 20 years respectively.

"I will miss the day to day social contact with my customers - so many people have been coming in and shaking my hand and saying thank you. I think that is something you do lose when you lose the independent stores - the willingness to go the extra mile without worrying about breaching health and safety rules.

"I don't want to be negative about the sheds - we all use them - but I think the main difference is that independent staff always want to help and have the knowledge to do so. With the larger stores the staff are very keen to show you where something is but they can't always offer that personal touch."

While Mr Walker said he had attempted to sell the business when the lease's expiry began to loom, all initial interest tapered off. "I am very sad to see the business go," he added, "It's been smashing."

Comments

Published prior to March 2014
By walt
i was very sad to hear that Snowdrop lane DIY had closed :-( As the owner stated they were probably pushed out by the large retail stores. The problem with this is the staff working in such places know little about the stock and less about customer service. Snowdrop lane would endeavour to find oddball items unthinkable in warehouse type stores (try finding a box of number 4 brass screws in BnQ for example). Great shame. Thanks and best wishes to Mr Walker for getting me out of several 'scrapes' over the years.
Published prior to March 2014
By Mr A jones
I do apologise my name for the above comment is Mr A jones ,,,,,,,AGAIN
Published prior to March 2014
By Anonymous
Vary very sad , when you see small indepedant shops going ,offering that personal service to its customer, there clearly isn't any loyalty anymore , everything these days is run purely by PROFIT AND GREED ,bring back some good old fashioned values , we must keep a close eye on the big players

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