Another major shop is closing in Portadown as Nigel O’Hara Jewellers prepare to pull down the shutters.
Mr O’Hara blamed the “negative influence of Rushmere and traffic wardens on the town, leaving me no choice but to close after 42 years in the trade”.
He added, “The footfall in Portadown has declined by the week. There are so many horror stories of over-zealous traffic wardens, and this helps chase the trade out to Rushmere where parking is free.”
It was, he said, a vicious circle. The more shops that closed, the more shopping suffered. “It has come to the stage where a major impetus is needed to boost Portadown. Sadly, we will be no longer a part of it as we begin the process of closing down,” he said.
He has been in the trade for over four decades – 12 years with his father and 30 in Portadown in his shop.
The company also has an online market but that, too, has suffered from the economic downturn and fierce opposition from multinationals.
“It has all left us with no option but to close down,” said Mr O’Hara. “We are having a sale in the store – up to 80 per cent off – and it will continue until all the stock has been sold.”
A large red banner above the shop proclaims the closing down sale, and townspeople have called in to sympathise.
“We have made tremendous friends over the years,” said Mr O’Hara, who was brought up in the Corcrain area – “We have a real love and empathy for the town.”
He added, “We wish to thank personally all our customers who have supported us over the years. We have always carried a quality range of jewellery and watches, several ‘big names’ - in a beautifully-appointed shop.
“But it’s so difficult for the local trader in this day and age. It’s devastating having to lay off my faithful staff.”
He said the downturn in the economy plus the effects of Rushmere and the traffic wardens had made it “impossible to continue”.
O’Hara’s are the latest in a line of shops to leave Portadown, including Dunnes grocery division in High Street Mall, Dolce and Gelato in West Street and Menary’s in Market Street.