Independent art framing shop to close after 110 years serving town

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A 110-year-old independent shop is to close after losing business in the recession.

John McEwan, 70, owner of Art Shop Framing, in Church Walk, said he would be sad to close his doors to loyal customers on February 8.

The business, originally named The Art Shop, opened in the High Street in 1904 and John took over the business in 1980.

He renamed it Art Shop Framing and moved to Church Walk in 2000.

John said his beloved business lost profits during the recent recession and it was not viable for him to keep it open .

He said closing the shop was ’like moving house’ after working there for 34 years.

He said: “It will be a very sad day when we walk out and leave.

“I will miss the people. The customers are also friends. If people are just passing by they will come in to have a chat.”

John will use his retirement to play golf and do volunteer work.

He added: “It’ll be daunting because it’ll be the first time I’ve not had a job.”

John’s wife Hilary, 70, who did the books for the shop, thought it was the town’s oldest independent shop.

She said: “So many people go to the shop and have been going for several years.

“We want to say an enormous thank you to all the people that have been coming in for 30 years. You get to know their children and their grandchildren.

“It’s a big social centre.”

Hilary enjoyed being involved in big milestones in customers’ lives.

She said: “Somebody brought in a teddy with no eyes, one ear and a hanky had been sewn onto it to make its body. She wanted it to be put in a frame which says ‘Lucy’s first love’ and she was going to give it to her son-in-law on their wedding day. I thought that was so lovely.”

Sheelagh Owen, from Horley, said she would miss coming in every few weeks to get her cross stitching work framed. She said: “I just come in here for a chat if I’m passing. I’ve been coming in for years. I will miss it.”

What are your memories of the Art Shop? Do you know any older independent shops which are still open today?