The owners of family-run hardware shop David Messam Ltd of Chichester have made the tough decision to close down due to rising Brexit-related costs, tough competition from the internet and out-of-town retailers as well as dwindling footfall.
Originally a haberdashey and corset shop, the business was purchased by the grandparents of current proprietor Keith Messam back in 1948, with his grandfather selling all the thread and haberdashery and his grandmother taking care of ladies' undergarments. When his grandfather passed away, Mr Messam's grandmother rented the shop to Keith's father David in 1959, who gave the shop his name and, when Jay's Hardware closed down, established the business as a tools and hardware store.
Mr Messam explained: “When grandma moved out, we decorated and strengthened the building, fitting girders throughout. My mother and father purchased the shop at this time, then opened up the upper floor for hardware key cutting and security, with tools downstairs.
“The cellar was used for stock and we had a generous-sized office and staff room on the top floor.”
Keith Messam took over the shop himself in 1977. In 1999 he married Lesley, whose interest in jewellery and silver clay led to the cellar's re-purposing as a bead and jewellery supply trove.
“Even with all these supplies,” explained Mr Messam, “We have hit on harder times recently. Turnover has reduced year on year [so] now we have had to make the decision to close the business.
“Brexit is costing the business with stock costing more, the internet is taking all the sales are we are being used as a showroom, not a shop. Also, we have had several large out-of-town retailers set up with free parking all taking some sales and making it harder to make enough profit to pay the bills.”
He added that customer loyalty remained high, saying: “We have a great customer base [who will] miss the city centre shop that has everything that you can't buy anywhere else, but we are always the last hope, never the first.
“We will obviously miss our staff who are mainly family but have worked for the business for many years. They are all loyal, hard-working and friendly.”
Mr Messam added that, given the recent news of B&Q's latest high street venture in North London, the retailer might be interested in taking on the premises in Chichester, pointing out that the city needed “a tool hardware supplier.”