Owner of historic Welsh shop in Aberystwyth facing ’emotional’ decision over future
The owner of a historic Welsh shop in Aberystwyth has said that he is facing an “emotional” decision over its future.
Siop y Pethe on Sgwar Owain Glyndwr in the university town has struggled as a result of the Covid pandemic he said in an “emotional” plea for advice on Facebook.
Owner Aled Rees said that on some days as little as £18 is made at the shop and that he was considering whether to close down, but didn’t want to see the Siop y Pethe name disappear from the town.
Siop y Pethe was the first-ever Welsh shop of its kind, opening in 1967 and starting a trend of what is today a large community of bookshops across Wales. Many have branched out to selling music, art, and crafts as well as books, all with a Welsh or Welsh language theme.
“We know it may not be the normal procedure to write something like this on social media, but what is normal in the world we are currently living in?” the owner said in a Facebook post on the shop’s page.
“The world has changed! Business has changed! The high street has changed! Shopping has changed!
“At Siop y Pethe we are having to look at things seriously at the moment to see what we should do ongoing with the business.
“Taking over the shop and purchasing the building in 2015 was an honour and privilege! As the first ever Welsh shop of its kind, as a permanent fixture in the centre of Aberystwyth since 1967.
“And before making any decisions on the future of the shop we would value the opinion of you, our loyal customers, and supporters.”
‘Worst two years’
He said that the amount of money coming through the till had fallen from £20,000 in January to March 2019 to just £8,000 this year.
“Costs are going up and margins are coming down! There’s no need to be Einstein to realise what this means,”the post said.
“Things may of course change, more people could come through the door as things get better with the pandemic, but will it be enough?
“We are conscious of what this would mean to Aberystwyth and our hearts say that we should fight through things and things could get better. But after the worst two years for the high street our heads are saying things will not change that quickly.
“We are now competing with much more than we were two years ago. The way many people shop has changed. Now people buy more online, Amazon, Etsy etc and even directly with our suppliers – cutting the middleman (us the shop) out of the transaction.”
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