Shoe shop to shut after 200 years

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A SHOE shop that has been at the heart of Mildenhall’s High Street for more than two centuries is to close.

Charles Stebbing Shoes has been catering for the town’s footwear needs for 200 years but a downturn in business over the last five years has led to it announcing that it will close in the New Year.

A closing down sale is already being held, while four staff will be made redundant.

Sarah Sturling, manager, said the shop had to face the inevitable after a recession and changes in shopping habits.

“We are not making money and it’s very tough on the high street at the moment.

“Mildenhall is getting smaller and everyone just jumps in the car or on the bus to Bury St Edmunds where there is more choice.”

Owner Len Reeve, now retired, took over the business in the 1950s with the shop as an established part of Mildenhall High Street.

Ms Sturling said it was hoped that the shop, which Mr Reeve owns the freehold on, would be let out to another business soon.

“Hopefully that will help the situation on the High Street,” she said.

Joanne Rogers, Forest Heath District Council’s town centre manager for Mildenhall, said the closure was ‘very sad’ for the owners and the town.

“It’s a very well known business in the area, not just the shop but the family, too.

“They have been losing money for five years and the recession doesn’t help, but it’s a structural thing.

“There aren’t fashion shops in Mildenhall any more and people don’t shop in local towns when they can go to bigger places with everything nearby,” she said.

Ms Rogers said the council would now be doing all it could to help the owners let the shop to another business.

“The big brands are very picky about where they go but it’s a great location so we will be helping them however we can,” she said.