Outpouring of love upon closure of century-old corner shop impacted by Covid
- Credit: Celia Bartlett Photography
Residents joined the Saffron Walden Mayor in marking the closure of a much-loved shop, which took a further financial hit because of the Covid pandemic.
East Street Store owner Gita Mohabir sent a heartfelt ‘thanks’ to the community.
Gita said: “I was hoping to get away quietly, without the limelight, but it didn’t quite happen that way. The mayor came in and presented a beautiful arrangement of flowers.
“Over the last 34 years, people paid the wages of me and my husband. I think they have supported me immensely in my life, and I will never forget that.
“I can’t tell you how many people left me their contact details, and the amount of flowers and gifts customers have brought to my store.”
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She said that after her husband Ramsarran (Ram) passed away last May, it has been very difficult for her to manage all responsibilities alone.
But she said a trade decline over the last three years also led to the closure.
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She said: “We worked pretty hard to make it viable but times change, and people’s shopping habits changed because of Covid.
“It’s reached the point where it was beginning to cost me money.”
Gita purchased East Street Store with Ram after meeting him in Guyana, where she is from, when she was 21. She had worked several jobs in her home country, before moving to the UK in 1980.
Residents told her the shop has been going for more than 140 years. She said the shop will now be converted into an office.
She added: “I can’t help but feel a little saddened that my dear customers will not have the shop anymore. But no one wanted to buy it.”
As a small shop, they got to know people’s lives. She wrapped birthday presents for customers and their families every year.
She is now contemplating retiring.
She said: “I would have loved to have my dear husband by my side if I am retiring. I am still grieving for him.
“This is the end of an era. I will continue to live here, close to the shop, but I may eventually move to Kent, where my sister is, the only family I have in the UK.”
Mayor Heather Asker said: “It’s a sad day when an independent retail business closes, and it was her and her husband Ram’s life for many years. It was moving yesterday to see a lot of customers coming to see and cheerio her across the counter.
“It was the epitome of the old-fashioned corner shop. When such an institution closes, it’s important to mark the passing of that and that those who used it remember and talk about it to future generations.”
“On behalf of the town, we wish Gita every success and happiness going forward.”