As traders move away from the row of shops earmarked for demolition on Devonshire Street in Sheffield city centre, Alan Capes is preparing to be the last man standing at bookseller Rare and Racy.
The Natural Bed Company has taken up a new showroom on nearby Fitzwilliam Street, the Rag Parade clothes shop has just moved to become JoJo’s General Store on Ecclesall Road, and fashion boutique Syd and Mallory’s Emporium is raising money to fund its relocation.
Alan, who has been selling second-hand books, music and prints for 45 years from Devonshire Street, said: “My lease does not finish until May 2017. I’m gradually reducing stock, reducing the price of stock, and selling as much as I can. I’ll have some kind of sale and then pack it all in.”
In his case, relocation isn’t an option.
“It doesn’t pay its way here. I’m working six days a week and can’t afford to employ anyone else. As a shop, I don’t think it’s viable. Setting up somewhere else I wouldn’t even think about. It’s just the way of things. Everything dies eventually. I’m 65 next May so at least I start getting my pension.”
Plans that involve knocking down the independent shops and replacing them with a shop, a restaurant and flats were approved last year, despite 20,000 objections.
Sheffield Council said its hands were tied by planning laws, and a bid for a judicial review was rejected.
At the time, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker said Rare and Racy was a ‘global treasure’ that it would be a ‘crime to destroy’.
Alan said he understood no work will take place on Devonshire Street until all of the leases have ended.
“I’ve not heard anything else - unless they decide they want to go ahead prior and want to pay me to get out.”
Meanwhile Kirsteen Hardie and Lucy Newell, who run Syd and Mallory, have until the end of July to move, and are asking customers to help them raise £4,000 to cover costs. Over £900 has already been collected.
The business is moving just a few doors away to another empty shop which has become available.
Kirsteen said: “It’s really important to keep the shops on Devonshire Street independent. That’s why people come here. We want to try and keep it as it is meant to be.”
n Visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/syd-and-mallory-s-emporium to donate.