Party shop U-Need-Us finally departs city centre - after nearly a century of Portsmouth business

A MUCH-LOVED fancy dress shop in Portsmouth has said an emotional farewell to its city centre home after nearly 100 years.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 10:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 12:06 pm
U-Need-Us, in Arundel Street, has vacated its premises after nearly 100 years in Portsmouth.

U-Need-Us, in Arundel Street, announced its closure in February 2019.

The shop, which was well known for its fancy dress, joke items and party goods, had been run by the Searle family for 96 years.

At the time, manager Debbie Haggan, whose grandfather set up the shop, said online competition had contributed to its decline.

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Photos of the last day taken by Stephen Searle.

The shop ceased trading in March 2019 and the building was put up for sale.

On Sunday, the family locked the shop doors for the last time, following the sale of the building.

Stephen Searle posted photos of their last day to Facebook.

The empty shop floor

He said: ‘So today after our beginnings in 1923 the Searle family’s proud presence in Portsmouth town centre officially ended.

‘The premises have new owners and the shop will take on a new life and we also believe a part change of use.

‘We wish it well as our once-lively shopping centre evolves into something different as is needed for today’s rapidly changing times.

U-Need-Us sign

‘It was only a building but it holds so many memories within its walls, so many smiles, so much joy and so many countless memories.

‘Thank you Portsmouth and to all of you far and wide who played a part in our proud history. We’ll be raising a glass to you all this evening.’

He said the building had been sold to a local developer, and the ground floor will continue as either retail or restaurant use, with a potential for flats on the upper floors.

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U-Need-Us stock room
The former office
The shop shelves are now cleared.
Stock room
Some of the many varied items in the shop in February 2019.
Brother and sister, Steve Searle and Sandra Haggan who worked at the shop for over 30 years, pictured in February 2019 after announcing the shop would close.
Customers grabbing what they can before U-Need-Us shuts its doors in March 2019
Matthias Hepworth and his children, Ben, 8, and Sophia, 11, in March 2019
U-Need-Us 95th Anniversary
Stephen Searle, manager of the U-Need-Us joke
U-Need-Us 95th Anniversary - Shop assistant Jade Thompson (19)
The Searle family including manager Steve Searle, back left, with customers, front left to right, Salina Coleman, Elizabeth Jones, 15, and Andrew Jones. U Need Us, Arundel Street, on its last day of trading.
U-Need-Us 95th Anniversary - Card magician Roy Charles
U-Need-Us stocked a wide range of games and puzzles
Lord Mayor Cllr Lee Mason prepares to cut the anniversary cake with the owners and staff of the shop
U-Need-Us 95th Anniversary - Sarah Jobe and Clare Searle with the 95th Anniversary cake
Charlie Searle putting out the last few puzzles out on display in February 2019.
Steve Searle and Sarah Wellham of U Need Us outside their store for Blue Day, a fundraiser run by The News in aid of the Tom Prince Cancer Trust
Allison Brookes, Karen Knipe, Tracey Knipe and Steve Searle, at a street party outside their store to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in February 2011.
Some of the many varied items in the shop in February 2019.
Staff from U Need Us, Tracey Knipe and Steve Searle get the street party started outside their store in 2011
U Need Us
Bagging a bargain, customers Linda Brown and Lucy Parrett, pictured on the shops last day in March 2019.
U-Need-Us 95th Anniversary - Amanda Marshall was shopping for tiaras for a friend's Hen Night
U Need Us, Arundel Street, on its last day of trading in March 2019
The U-Need-Us team at the unveiling of a miniature version of their shop at Southsea Model Village.
Dean Wilson, Ian Morson, Mark Wilson, Stephen Searle, Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor David Fuller, Mrs Leza Tremorin, Sandra Haggen at the unveiling of a model of the U-Need-Us shop at Southsea Model Village in May 2019.
The U-Need-Us shop lives on as a model at Southsea Model Village