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Sale of shop brings family business to an end after six decades

An Aldershot newsagents run by the same family for 62 years is shutting up shop after selling the building on

Gordon Eccles has run J Eccles Newsagents, in Aldershot, for 55 years
Gordon Eccles has run J Eccles Newsagents, in Aldershot, for 55 years

A family newsagents, which opened more than 60 years ago, will come to an end next month after the shop was sold.

J Eccles, in Ash Road, was set up in 1952 by Jack and Phyllis Eccles, and is now run by sons Gordon and Richard.

Now, 62 years later, the business is about to come to and end after the brothers decided to sell the property, and its doors will close for the last time at the end of March.

The sale of the building will allow Gordon, 70, and Richard, 61, to retire, having both started working in the shop when they left school.

Their parents previously ran the Wheelwright Arms pub in Waterloo Road, which has now been converted into flats, before deciding to take the plunge and buy the newsagents.

Gordon said: “A customer came in and said the shop was available. They went over and mum burst into tears because of the state of it, but they bought it and ran both it and the pub for a while.”

Jack died aged 77, however Phyllis lived until she was 100, working in the shop until the age of 80 and dying on Mother’s Day last year.

Gordon said he and his brother decided they no longer wanted to run the shop after the business suffered from months of roadworks to replace a water main a year ago, together with a burglary in November, in which thousands of pounds of cigarettes were taken, and the imminent arrival of Sainsbury’s at the former Prince of Wales pub site.

The decision to sell up came after first offering control of the business to Gordon’s son Tony, who also worked there but he, too, decided against carrying on.

Despite looking forward to a well-earned rest in his retirement, Gordon, who is married and also has a daughter and is a great grandfather, said in many ways he was sorry to let the shop go.

“We know all the customers quite well and a lot are saying they are sorry to see us go,” he said.

Asked what were his favourite memories of his 55 years behind the counter, he said: “Getting up at 4.45am every morning. No, I’m telling lies. You get to talk to people, and I enjoyed that.

“I will now have a lie-in. I don’t suppose I will do much.

“I don’t have any hobbies but I’m sure I’ll find something to do.”

He added: “I think the worst part is all the paperwork. You’ve got to do it all on a computer and I’m not very computer literate. Then there's working out all the VAT and tax and wages.”

He said running a business had become an expensive game, especially for a newsagent as “everyone else sells papers now”.

It is unclear what will become of the shop, which Gordon said has had interest from a private individual. He said it is uncertain whether he was planning to continue to run the shop or redevelop the site.

 
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