Petersfield shop facing closure after 24 years

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A CHARITY shop which has been open in Petersfield town centre for almost a quarter of a century faces closure unless the public can help it raise £10,000 to stay open.

The Unity Christian Bookshop in Folly Lane, has launched an urgent appeal to find the funds to plug its annual deficit and bring in the cash needed to keep it open in 2012.

During the past few years the store has been running on an annual deficit of £5,000 but as a result of this and the continued poor economic climate, it will close in the New Year unless around £10,000 can be raised to keep it open.

Volunteers at the bookshop are urging members of the public to support them via donations and increased use of the shop.

Leaflets have been sent out to regular customers, Petersfield Area Churches Together and churches in the wider area asking for their help.

Di Mackarness, chairwoman of the trustees at Unity Christian Bookshop, said: “It would be desperately sad if we had to close, but we have to be business-like about it, and if it comes to the crunch we will bow out with dignity.

“But not without a fight first.We’ve never had to ask for funding before and we didn’t think we would need to.

“We thought we could weather the storm like we have done in the past. But now we feel like we’re fighting a losing battle because technology is so advanced and less and less people are using the shop.

“Donations will really help us get back on our feet in the short term, but in the long run what we really need is for more people to shop there.”

The trustees have set themselves a target of January 16, when they will review the situation. A decision will then be made if the shop is to remain open or to be closed if it is no longer considered viable.

Jo Watts (78), of Oaklands Road, Petersfield, has volunteered in the shop for 17 years.

She said: “It’s such a nice thing to be involved with and it would be very sad if we had to close.

“But I feel quite positive that we will stay open, judging by the reaction we’ve had from customers and some of the letters.

“I’ve met some really wonderful people through working in the shop. It would be such a shame to loose it, because it’s a hub for Christians in Petersfield. People come from all over the county.”

The charity is also looking for more volunteers to relieve some of the strain on the current team. Call 01730 262572 if you can help.