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Jill takes a leap and opens town centre store

Jill Sainsbury and her father Colin Hawkins at the opening of Handy Hardwares, in Stowmarket
Jill Sainsbury and her father Colin Hawkins at the opening of Handy Hardwares, in Stowmarket

A Stowmarket hardware store opened its doors on Tuesday, after a former shop assistant decided to take it on.

When Jill Sainsbury learned in December that Diss Discount, in Ipswich Street, was to close , it got her thinking.

She had worked at the shop for 10 years and knew there was a market for it in the town, but the former owner wanted to concentrate on his other shop in Diss.

Fast forward three months, and Jill has decided to ‘take a leap’ and has re-opened the shop as Handy Hardware.

“I didn’t want it to close down,” she said.

“I approached the owner of Diss Discount and asked him if I could invest, so I’m now running the shop. It’s scary and exciting.”

It has taken Jill and her husband since the New Year to re-fit the shop and take delivery of stock in preparation for opening day.

On Tuesday, Jill surprised her father by asking him to cut the ribbon with a pair of shears to officially declare it open.

“I couldn’t have done any of this without him. He didn’t know he was cutting the ribbon, so it was a surprise.

“My dad has always been my rock. I thought of asking the mayor but no, my dad is far more of a star to me. It was quite emotional,” said Jill.

“He’s been very supportive. There have been times I have wondered if I could take on the shop, but my dad has encouraged me all the way.”

The first day of trading was very busy, with Jill still serving customers at 5.45pm, despite officially closing at 5pm.

“I’ve had lots of positive comments so far. People are very pleased the shop is here and selling hardware,” she added.

Handy Hardware sells items including DIY items including screws and tools, decorating equipment, bulbs and gardening equipment, plastic boxes and cleaning chemicals ‘you can’t buy in supermarkets’.

The shop is open 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday.

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