'˜I feel sad. People aren't loyal to their local shop any more': Northampton shopkeeper to shut his business after 31 years
A well-known Northampton shopkeeper is retiring after 31 years of service to his local community.
Raj Patel, who has run Parklands Newsagents in Oulton Rise since 1985 but has decided to shut on August 27 after a slowdown in trade at his shop.
The 65-year-old said he believed he had lost 90 per cent of his trade after a Co-op opened two doors down from his store.
Mr Patel said: “I feel very sad. I feel like I am letting down my customers, especially my delivery customers who are mainly the pensioners who can’t come out for their paper.
“I collect money for the delivery from them and I don’t know who else will be able to do that.”
Mr Patel, who is a former runner-up in the Pride of Northamptonshire awards, said he felt “ very lucky” to work in the Parklands area where he had experienced hardly any crime.
He said he had suffered only one serious incident when he was pushed over by a shoplifter and suffered a broken leg.
Mr Patel said: “I probably know 99 per cent of the people who come into the newsagents and they know me. I have served people’s children and grandchildren and they refer to Parklands Newsagents as ‘Raj’s shop’.”
On Facebook, Mr Patel also has his own tribute group called “Of course I have been in Raj’s shop”.
Northampton Borough Councillor Mike Hallam (Con, Parklands), a former paper boy at Parklands Newsagents, said: “Raj’s place in our local community will be sorely missed as he is far more than just a newsagent.
“Always a strong champion of the local community - he won’t thank me for saying it, but there’s many a time he has run elderly residents to the hospital, dropped in shopping or prescriptions.”