OWNERS of a long established tea shop in the centre of Midhurst have closed down because they say their business is no longer viable.
Mary Geiss and her partner Clive Newell have run Ye Olde Tea Shoppe in North Street since 1999.
But customers were shocked to find a note on the door saying the last day of trading was on Sunday September 29.
Mary told the Observer: “Things have been getting worse and worse over the last three years and we have been losing £20,000 a year.
“We asked our landlord for a reduction in the rent because we couldn’t carry on, but we have not been able to get one.”
She said the downturn in business was partly due to rising business rates and the failure of local authorities to support business in the town.
“There is nowhere designated for coaches to stop now since parking was taken out of the Grange car park.
“When we first came here there were five or six coaches and all their passengers every week and even some through the winter when shopping tours stopped here - now we are lucky if we get one a week.”
She added: “It also seems now that if there is anything on at Goodwood they tend to redirect the traffic to Petworth and we are missing out on all the passing trade that used to come through Midhurst.
“Since the Hindhead tunnel was opened, the signage, as we know has all changed, and people can’t find Midhurst - it seems to get bypassed.”
She also failed to see why markets continued to be held in North Street which also affected trade.
“They have spent all this money on the Market Square and yet the markets continue to be held outside my door in North Street - people can’t see us or cross over to get into the shop.”
In addition Mary said so many more coffee shops had been given planning permission in the town that it was inevitable they could not all survive. “When we first came here there was just ourselves and three others.
“We are devastated. We are also very sad and there is some bitterness because we feel we have been pushed into this situation. We kept thinking business would pick up but it reached the stage where we just couldn’t carry on.
“We worked out we had to make £450 a day to break even and at times we have been down to the £200 to £300s.”