Illness forces closure of CJs - but town issues a factor

SAD TIMES:  CJs staff members Judy Fenty and Eleanor Ingram will be sad to see the shop closing after nine years in business.
SAD TIMES: CJs staff members Judy Fenty and Eleanor Ingram will be sad to see the shop closing after nine years in business.
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THE owners of Peterhead’s party shop CJs has announced it will close at the end of November.

Jim and Coreen Hutchison made the decision to shut the Queen Street shop a few weeks ago after announcing that Coreen’s illness had forced the decision.

The couple opened up the popular shop nine years ago, and moved to Queen Street seven years ago, but increasing competition from the internet and a number of town centre issues, coupled with Coreen’s fibromyalgia, led to the decision to close the doors.

Speaking to the Buchanie on Friday, Coreen said: “Due to the progression of my illness we decided that it was time to quit.

“The shop has been up for sale for the past three years, but due to the economic climate, and the difficulty in potential buyers getting a loan from the banks, it has remained unsold.

“Our location on Queen Street, while in the main thoroughfare of town, has also brought its problems, with customers often finding it difficult to park to pick up items.

“We’ve had customers nip in to pick up balloons only to run back out to their car to find they have been given a parking ticket.”

The couple say that they have to pay £10 per day to park their cars behind their own shop, and one one occasion Mr Hutchison received a ticket for unloading his van.

“Queen Street isn’t the best place to get access to and it’s often difficult to find a parking space,” they said

“Parking charges in the car parks are also astronomical compared to other towns and that’s also putting people off coming into the town centre.

“The councillors who were elected promised they were going to get things done, but they seem to have focused on Drummers Corner and ignored the town’s main street.”

They also said that competition from the internet had hit the shops like theirs hard, and it was impossible to compete with the prices on offer online.

“We’ve had folk coming in to try on costumes and then turning round and saying they would just order it online. How can you compete with that?” they added.

Responding to the comments, Peterhead & South councillor Stephen Smith said: “I’m very sorry to hear about Mr and Mrs Hutchison’s decision and wish Mrs Hutchison well in her fight against her illness.

“I think the Hutchisons make a number of very good points in light of the current debate about traffic management and the town centre. Here we have a town centre business located on a main street which is open to traffic and has on-street parking, but is still facing problems, albeit some of them, such as comptition from the internet, are completely unrelated.

“This would suggest that opening up Marischal Street to traffic because some people think it will help the shops is not the answer.

“I completely agree that it is parking charges, rather than whether or not a street is pedestrianised, that are part of the problem. My SNP colleagues and I stood on a manifesto in May which included introducing a period of free parking for the town centres.

“This would have been extremely helpful in attracting people to use the town centre shops. We were prevented from forming the administration of the council and being able to introduce this, but it is something we still want to see happen as part of a package for revitalising the town centre.”