West Dean couple bid a sad farewell

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A couple say they will be sad to leave village life after deciding call it a day as managers of the community shop.

Geoff and Jane Collier, who ran West Dean Stores, said despite putting much energy and money into the shop they had found it just too difficult to maintain a steady income.

The couple were hit hard by the closure of the village’s post office in 2009, which threatened the shop with complete closure, but gave it another go thanks to the help of the Edward James Foundation and a donation from an anonymous benefactor. They upgraded the store, started serving refreshments and even diversified by selling fish and chips on a Friday night and extending opening hours.

Mrs Collier said they were sad to be going, but could not give any more.

“Basically we couldn’t compete with the supermarkets, we’d see lots of Tesco delivery vans. People used to do a weekly shop, but then we became reliant on people forgetting things like bread and milk. The servery took off really well for a while during the shooting and beating season, and in the summer it was busy, but I think the novelty wore off.”

The couple also had trouble with a sign which they said made a huge difference in generating business, but had to remove it because of planning regulations.

Mr Collier has now returned to his former career as an engineer and Mrs Collier said she was looking at teaching again. The couple are looking to move to the Portsmouth area.