South Norwood roadworks blamed for shop closure
ROADWORKS have finally left South Norwood – but not without claiming a victim.
Wism, based in the High Street, opened four years ago but was due to shut on Saturday.
While the fashion store's owners said there are other factors behind its closure – notably the recession – trade has been down more than 50 per cent since January when the roadworks started.
Entrepreneurs Elizabeth Fournier and Karen Cooper chose the South Norwood location because they felt it offered the best business opportunities.
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But the road was left blocked for months when Thames Water had to replace the Victorian water mains.
Elizabeth said: "We opened in the recession and it's been quite difficult for us, but this year the roadworks have definitely killed it to be honest.
"I understand it's got to be done, but it's just unfortunate for us.
"They blocked the road off so we weren't having the volume of traffic coming down and the buses weren't stopping along here for people to get off.
"That was a lot of our custom – people would see something in the shop window when they were on the bus coming home from work."
Although Elizabeth believes they might be able to claim compensation for the disruption, it is too late to save the shop from shutting.
When they opened the business four years ago, the pair saw a gap in the market to offer fashionable clothes for women in the 16 to 28 size range.
Elizabeth said: "What this High Street needs is a big name like Superdrug or Iceland to come in here.
"We're obviously gutted. We've tried so hard to stay open, but financially it's not viable for us anymore."
Looking to the future, Elizabeth and Karen are planning a well-earned rest.
Elizabeth added: "We're going to take a break, we've had no holidays or weekends away.
"We're going to take some time out as ladies of leisure for a while, if finances allow that.
"I'd like to thank the customers for their support.
"We've had some lovely customers and they've become friends to us as well."