A determined Worksop business owner has called for new life to be injected into a once-bustling area of the town centre he says is in danger of disappearing altogether.
John Jewitt, who owns sweet shop and general store Stop ‘n’ Shop, on Hardy Street, has seen an 80 per cent drop in footfall since the opening of the new Worksop bus station earlier this year.
As buses would previously depart from the Hardy Street depot, directly opposite his shop, John used to be inundated with bus users and drivers picking up sweets and drinks before their journey.
But the opening of the £3.2 million new station on Watson Road, a 10-minute walk away, has left customers seeking refreshment elsewhere – and John struggling to keep his four-year-old business afloat.
However, John and his wife Marina, who co-owns and runs the shop, are not giving up just yet.
John, who juggles his business with his role as Royal Voluntary Service manager at Worksop’s Bassetlaw Hospital, said: “This is my last go, but I am doing everything I can to keep my shop open.
“The drastic drop in footfall has meant I have had to take other measures, such as setting up a stall on Worksop market where I sell our range of vintage sweets.
“We’ve invested in a fantastic self-serving coffee and hot chocolate machine as well, which I also take to the stall.
“Worksop market is based the main street and we do get a good number of customers, but ideally I would be based at my shop and not on a market stall.
“My message to shoppers and councillors is ‘don’t let Hardy Street die. It’s a great little central street that has a lot of potential’.
“I believe in Hardy Street and I also believe in my shop, which is now the only vintage sweet shop in the entire town. We sell sweets that are difficult to get hold of now, along with all the old favourites, and have a Lottery stand as well as payzone and of course our new coffee machine when it’s not on our stall.
“We’re going to re-brand Stop ‘n’ Shop as Hardy Street Candy Store shortly, and hope the community will pull together to support us in this relaunch.
“It would be such a shame if we had to close.”
New hairdressing business The Scissors and Comb opened on Hardy Street recently and is keen to work with John and Marina on Hardy Street’s revival.
Owned by fellow husband and wife duo Ben and Katie Beaumont, the salon has been offering hair cuts to men and women since it opened three months ago.
Ben said: “Worksop is an area of the country that has lost a bit of its industry, but only needs some TLC.
“We moved here from Louth six months ago and have found the people are lovely – in fact we’ve had a 100 per cent return rate.
“But Hardy Street admittedly feels a little bit wasted.
“It’s a great central location that would benefit from some investment, definitely.”
Hardy Street is also home to funeral directors Robert Priest and Bassetlaw mental health charity Mind, but also boasts an empty unit and office block which John says have not been in operation for some years.
In its day, the street was a thriving area for shoppers, particularly in the 1950s when it included a well-known delicatessen owned by Polish RAF pilot-turned-deli-owner Wladyslaw Nowak.
Councillor Kevin Greaves, Nottinghamshire County Council member for Worksop West, said: “As a council, we looked at ways we could help businesses on Hardy Street which led to us installing parking bays on the road.
“Motorists can only park there for an hour which will hopefully mean a quick turnover and increase in footfall for these Hardy Street businesses.”