Town’s biggest ever charity shop gets ready to open

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WITH a huge new charity shop due to open in Rugby town centre, questions have been raised about whether there are now too many second hand shops on the high street.

The British Heart Foundation is opening a new furniture and electrical store in the former Walkabout premises in High Street following the closure of the bar last year.

The shop will add to a growing number of charity stores in the town, all receiving an 80 per cent reduction in business rates.

With many traders in the town centre struggling through the recession, questions have been raised about whether it is fair that such huge reductions should be given to charities.

Fazil Mohamed, owner of Rugby News Express in Sheep Street, said: “We are paying high rates here. It’s not affordable at the moment.

“This town is not worth it. Having all these charity shops affects the rest of the shops.

“We need more quality shops with a good reputation that will being customers into town.”

Mr Mohamed said trade is so bad he is making no profit, losing money and won’t be able to continue for much longer if the rates aren’t reduced.

He added: “We’re really struggling at the moment. That’s why so many shops have closed in the town.”

However Karen Bromage, manager of the Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe in Chapel Street, said charity shops are needed to keep the town centre alive.

She said: “If we didn’t have the charity shops we would have an empty high street.

“Consumers are the guilty party. Everyone wants to buy cheap goods.”

According to Robin Richter, managing director of Rugby First, there is no sign of the recession ending in the high street yet and charity shops, pound shops and pawn shops are proving extremely popular.

Mr Richter said: “This new charity shop will not be selling most of the stuff you would normally see in a charity shop. There are retail charity shops and charity shops.

“When you’ve got a few volunteers working behind a counter that’s fine if they get an 80 per cent reduction in rates but when you’ve got a charity that has got its own buying department and is spending mega bucks doing up the unit then that’s something different.

“Business rates are set by central government and I’m hoping things will soon change.”

He added: “People are hard up and looking for a bargain.

“I’m sure that when we come out of the recession one or two charity shops will go to the wall.”

The British Heart Foundation store is due to open on Wednesday February 23.