Life isn't sweet for village traders as another plans to shut up shop

Following my article last month announcing the closure of the Ayla Rose lingerie boutique I was contacted that day by two business owners who informed me they were also shutting their Alderley Edge shops.

Five years after opening their doors to a welcoming crowd, a traditional sweet shop has decided to close its doors.

Having reached a break-clause in their lease, the owners of Mr Simms have taken the difficult decision to shut up shop rather than carry on at an increased rent.

Former florist and ICT teacher Judy O'Brien opened the confectionary store in September 2011.

Speaking about the reasons for closing Judy told me "Together with the worry of increased rent and the effect of the ongoing customer parking problems in Alderley Edge, together with the withdrawal of the government's small business rates relief it has become more difficult to trade in the village. Therefore, after much, much consideration we are taking the option to relinquish our lease as amongst other factors we cannot risk the increased overheads.

"We have been trading 5 years and in that time the footfall in the village has reduced dramatically. Something that other traders are also observing. The simple fact is people cannot park. Two hours parking (if they can even find a space) is totally insufficient to allow people to food shop, have a coffee or lunch, maybe have their nails done and then take an hour to browse around the village.

"In addition to that, the enlarged Waitrose has taken all the cream from us at peak times such as Valentine's, Mother's Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas. Nevertheless, we have our very much appreciated lovely, loyal customers who have made efforts to come to us and I recognise that we are all pushed for time in this busy, busy life we have created for ourselves. But sadly many people no doubt find themselves popping confectionery goods into their trolley in Waitrose instead of making a conscious effort to support a little local shop, such as ours. The Wilmslow Artisan market and the advancing growth of on-line shopping have also taken their toll."

Judy also explained that coverage in the media encouraging people to cut down on sugar has had a negative impact on her business.

She added "Everyone is aware that sweets clearly contain sugar. If consumed in moderation and if children are taught how to properly care for their teeth, surely a few sweets now and again cannot do any harm. Despite stocking sugar-free products, which ironically not many people want, we have actually heard mums telling their 4 year olds that if they have sweets they will get diabetes (!) and their teeth will all fall out, comments which are totally out of perspective. The media has a lot to answer for."

Mr Simms will continue trading until mid-July.

Judy continued "I shall hugely miss being in the village, I shall miss my neighbouring traders and all the wonderful people who I have established relationships with over the years. I shall miss them all so much, but semi-retirement calls me in any case. I would like to take the opportunity to extend a huge thank you to my wonderful staff who will forever remain in contact as members of our self created Alderley Edge Mr Simms family, and of course all the lovely customers we have met."

We understand plans are underway for a designer sunglasses shop to replace Mr Simms and we published last month about Atelier Bride which has now moved out of Alderley Edge next month.

Photos: Crowd gathered at the opening of Mr Simms in September 2011.

Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Tam Byrne
Friday 10th June 2016 at 8:40 pm
That's a real shame. My two girls will be gutted.
Janice Hall
Friday 10th June 2016 at 10:05 pm
It's always disappointing to see hard working independents closing especially is such a lovely town such as Alderley Edge.
We are very excited to be opening another Willow Boutiques ( already in Knutsford and Hale ) in Alderley Edge within the next few weeks and hope that our shop will bring more customers to your wonderful town.
Please come and say hello. We look forward to welcoming everyone. Michelle and Janice
Kate Bennett
Sunday 12th June 2016 at 8:51 am
Having enjoyed Mr Simms from both sides of the counter I believe its closure will be a huge loss to the village. All credit to Judy for creating such a happy atmosphere for both staff and customers alike.
I shall miss the joyful reaction of the many visitors to Alderley Edge who have stood in amazement when they've entered Mr Simms and left with beaming smiles (and lots of delicious sweets and chocolates)!
So many loyal customers will be gutted to see the shop (Shoppe) I will too.
Tam Byrne
Sunday 12th June 2016 at 3:54 pm
Would the fact it was a franchise have played a part in reducing profit - do they take a cut? I would question the need for a brand like Mr Simms adds any real value. I'm sure we would love and support an independent sweet shop just the same if not more.
Judy O'Brien
Sunday 12th June 2016 at 6:27 pm
Hello Tam
Yes we are a Franchise and yes we pay a fee each month for the corporate identity. I am in effect independent in so much as I do my own marketing and I can buy my stock from wherever I choose, however, there are some products we could not get elsewhere which are related to the Mr Simms' brand, such as the chocolate.

Nevertheless, before concluding closure was our only option, we thoroughly researched the de-franchising route which revealed that a non franchised sweet shop in the village in these premises was still not viable.

When the enlarged Waitrose opened our trade fell by 30% which indicates that consumers are prepared to support huge multiple companies over small independent retailers. Hopefully people will make huge efforts now to support the remaining independents who apart from the anti-sugar campaign, and are not franchises, are most likely affected by the same issues and problems we have been affected by.
Judy O'Brien
Sunday 12th June 2016 at 6:31 pm
Thank you, Kay for your lovely words and thank you for all the loyal enthusiasm you have shown the shop. I feel I have been very fortunate to have had so many wonderful people working for me over the years. Some of the young people who worked at the shop before university still meet us for reunions, so I hope we shall all continue to stay in touch as members of our sweetie-family.
Tam Byrne
Monday 13th June 2016 at 9:21 am
Ok that's a shame! One of the first things we noticed when we moved to the village a couple of years ago now was YES they have a sweet shop for our two little girls (and their sweet tooth dad).
Duncan Herald
Monday 13th June 2016 at 2:09 pm
Will be sadly missed; both the choccies and the charming and ever helpful Judy
Judy O'Brien
Monday 13th June 2016 at 8:19 pm
Thank you all for your kind comments. I shall miss you all too. But I shall still be around:-)
Kevin Hanrahan
Wednesday 15th June 2016 at 10:37 pm
Hi Judy
I am sad to hear that Judy will be leaving us and that Mr. Simms is to close.
Now is the time to stock up with supplies to last till Christmas. So call in to see Judy and come away with good supplies. It would be a wonderful appreciation and thank you to Judy if she could put up a notice in July saying SOLD OUT.