THE MANAGING-DIRECTOR of an Evesham store has said it is beginning to flourish after enduring one of the most difficult years in business.
Life Emporium, situated in Vine Mews, opened a year ago and was the brainchild of Evesham residents Tony Fisher and Jerry Lawrence, who set up the shop to help boost the town’s economy.
In a unique scheme, the department store style shop sees items from more than 20 independent traders being sold under the same roof – supporting traders and small businesses from the Vale and beyond to get off the ground.
But several lengthy delays to the newly-constructed Evesham Abbey Bridge and Viaduct at the start of the year hit the store hard as it led to not many people coming through the doors.
And things got so bad Mr Fisher said he once contemplated shutting down with the taking numbers looking bleak week by week.
But since the new bridge opened at the end of March, takings have significantly improved and there is a fresh sense of optimism moving forward.
Mr Fisher told the Observer: “It’s been a rocky first year to say the least but we’ve kept going at it and managed to break even after our first year.
“We thought we would be able to cope with the initial bridge closure of ten weeks but it took almost six months and that’s what killed us. We were expecting a big Christmas period to make up for those ten weeks but it didn’t come.
“People just were not coming in to the town and especially as we are located at the dead-end of town, it was very difficult. December was our worst month when it should have been our best month.
“We felt helpless because there was nobody there doing much about it. It was worrying.”
Last month an open day was held to celebrate the shop’s first birthday and proved a big success with nine new traders coming on board.
“It was a busy day, probably our busiest since setting up and that reflected on the takings we had as well.” Mr Fisher added.
“I’m looking forward to the year ahead and got a lot more confidence now I can see the sales picking up and people coming here again.
“As we’ve been going for a year people know about us and we seem to be getting established.
“We feel if we can get through a year of recession and a delayed bridge closure then we’ve made it.”