A FAMILY-run business that has been lighting up homes across South Tyneside for almost 60 years is to close its doors for the final time.
Derek Thorpe & Daughters Lighting & Gifts in Coronation Street, South Shields, is the latest victim of the economic downturn.
Established by the late Mr Thorpe in the 1950s, the firm – selling every type of lightbulb and fixture imaginable – has been based in several locations over the years, including Fowler Street, Anderson Street and Mile End Road.
It has been at its current base for the past four years, run by Mr Thorpe’s daughters, Anne Spiller and Beverley Thorpe.
But a lack of trade recently has led to the decision to close.
Mrs Spiller, who has worked in the business for 40 years, said: “We’ve taken the decision to close purely due to a lack of trade.
“It was not an easy decision to make, and we are pretty despondent about it, but during the past 18 months, in particular, trade has been falling and we knew in our hearts that the time had come.
“People in the North East just don’t have the money to spend what they once did.
“We’ve had people come in here with cameras taking photographs of the stock – and then going off and buying the items on the internet. That’s very upsetting.”
Mrs Spiller, who is taking a career break to consider her next option, said the premises would close “within weeks”.
She passed on special thanks to the company’s loyal customers.
She added: “We have some customers who have been shopping here for decades, and they have been telling us that they are really sad and that we will be a miss.”
After taking over running of the shop from their dad, the daughters introduced fancy goods and gifts to the regular stock.
Mrs Spiller added: “We can’t just walk away, we have to sell all the stock. But it’s expensive to keep trading, and I would say that we will close within weeks.
“I want to thank all our loyal customers for their support over the years.”