THERE was a wave of disappointment when a ‘closing down’ sign appeared in the shop window.
Yet again another independent shop at the heart of the community was being lost. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Rob Sheppard, who had managed Emsworth Cycles for the past six years, decided to pour in his own cash to save the business, which has been a fixture in North Street for a quarter of a century.
His 11th-hour decision has delighted the large cycling community in the Emsworth area.
There were champagne and cheers yesterday as Mr Sheppard, family and customers raised a toast to a bright future.
The 42-year-old, who lives in Main Road, Southbourne, said: ‘The owners decided they had had enough and they decided they were going to close down.
‘There’s been a car spare and cycle shop here for 25 years.
‘I had been manager for six and it was either be unemployed and no promotion, or be employed with a promotion!
‘This was going to be converted into flats if we did not carry on as a shop.’
Three jobs have been saved by the business staying open.
Customer Steve Wagg, from Quinton Fields, Emsworth, said: ‘I think it’s vital for the community that a bike shop remained here.
‘It’s a service that Rob can provide and is in demand here.
‘It’s important cycling territory for riders up the Downs and people commuting.’
Customer Bradley Piper added: ‘It’s fantastic news.’
Mr Sheppard’s mum Zandra, 70, said: ‘It’s a brilliant idea. He was facing being out of work.
‘Jobs round here are not great, especially in this sort of business. I thought he could do it and he had our backing.’
The shop being saved has received the support of the wider community.
It comes after a couple of independent shops have closed in Emsworth, including a grocers.
The bustling town still boasts two butchers, a baker, a grocer and a delicatessen.
Lorraine Clode, chairwoman of residents’ association, said: ‘I’m absolutely thrilled the bike shop is staying in Emsworth. It’s a great asset.’
Mr Sheppard wanted to thank his partner Janine for helping to save the business.
Mr Sheppard will now be able to continue his passion for cycling – and changing wheels at lightning speed.
Two years ago he hit the headlines after being named the Fastest Wrench in the West.
Tasked with unlocking the brakes, taking off the front wheel, flattening it, pumping it up again – then putting the whole thing back together – the mechanic managed the job in a 58 seconds at the national Cycle Show in London.
Mr Sheppard said: ‘If the competition is there, I would do it again. But they didn’t run it last year.’