A decision by retailer W Boyes and Co to set up shop in struggling South Shields town centre has been met with surprise – and delight – by Gazette readers.
They flooded our social media pages to give their views on the company’s plans to open a department store at the former Marks & Spencer site in King Street, which has stood empty for four years.
Some claimed the firm must be off its trolley to even contemplate opening in a street hit by significant recession-related closures.
But others were quick to endorse it, insisting Boyes was a good company and its presence would be a boon to the borough.
On the Gazette’s Facebook page, Kayleigh Cordial claimed Boyes’s presence would be short-lived, adding: “Not enough people go to Shields because it’s full of horrible seagulls and pigeons.”
Sharon Skinner said she would have preferred Primark, insisting: “Boyes isn’t any good for the younger generation.”
In further criticism, Oliver Wallhead commented: “Oh, great a glorified Poundland! We already have a huge Home Bargains”, while Shelley Desborough claimed: “King Street needs a miracle.”
But there was support from Mark Pinckney, who said: “This is good news as King Street and Fowler Street resemble post-industrial, downtown derelict Detroit.”
And Elizabeth Wilson added: “Love Boyes, their Chester-le-Street shop is excellent. I’m delighted they’re opening one here.”
Rob James described Boyes as a “decent discount store”, while Nikki Brockbank and Joyce Weir said it was a “great shop”.
Also looking at the positives was Christine Young-Brown, who said: “At least something is opening up”, while Gary Roberts added: “An excellent all-round shop, at least it’s a start”.
On the parking front, John Brown said, “Can I be the first to mention free parking?”
His view was mirrored by Clare Gough, who said: “If they had free parking like Jarrow and Washington, more people might go.”
The Gazette revealed yesterday that Boyes had confirmed it would take over the M&S site, which has been empty for four years.
The company, which operatesmore than 50 stores, hopes to be open for business by the summer. Up to 25 part-time jobs, and two full-time roles, are expected to be created.
The retailer’s product range includes home and gardening equipment and furniture, health and beauty, clothing, footwear and pet supplies.