End of an era at Straits Parade as Jane and Geoff move on

October 28 2019
End of an era at Straits Parade as Jane and Geoff move on

A COUPLE say they will miss the Fishponds community when they close the shop they've been running for more than 20 years.

Jane and Geoff Watts will leave Barrett Newsagents in Straits Parade on Saturday November 16.

They took over the reins from Jane's parents, John and Beryl, who bought the newsagents in 1973.

Jane, 57, said: “I've absolutely loved it here. I will miss the customers the most, they're so friendly.”

The couple describe the decision to close as “very, very difficult” but say they had been struggling to stay afloat with the dwindling sales of newspapers, magazines and tobacco.

It just wasn't making any money. It was actually costing money to keep it open. “People don't buy newspapers and magazines any more.

"Supermarkets are taking all the seasonal trade, like Mother's Day, Valentine's, Easter and Christmas because they can sell things cheaper than what we can buy them for.

The minute the council made the street one way about eight years ago we lost 20 per cent of our trade straight away - we lost all our morning trade. We were up against all of that.”


The couple lived in Fishponds until 10 years ago when they moved to Wick.

They are dreading their last day but know it's time to move on.

Jane said: “It was a very, very difficult decision to make when something has been your whole life. I started working here after school and on weekends when I was about 14. For 42 years I've done nothing else.

I love the fun we have with customers, I like to have a laugh and a joke – to the point when they say if I'm not being insulting there must be something wrong with me!

A lot of people have said they will be very sorry to see us go.”

But it won't just be Jane and Geoff customers will miss – they will also be sad to lose the couple's dog Mollie, a Kerry Blue terrier, who has been a permanent fixture in the shop.

It's surprising the number of customers who come in just to see the dog,” said Jane. “In fact, we had to stop customers bringing her in treats because she was getting too fat!”

Geoff, 56, is planning to get an HGV licence to help him find work and Jane will take some time off before thinking about what to do.

I don't know what I want to do but there will have to be people involved. Either people or animals – I wouldn't mind doing doggie day care.”

The shop will be reopened as a convenience store, which will also sell newspapers, magazines and confectionery.

Kamal and Amma Singh will refit the premises and hope to be open before Christmas.

They are a lovely young couple and we'd like to wish them the best of luck. I hope they get the support that we've had over the years.

We'd also like to thank our customers for all the fun we've had and loyal support they've given us. We will miss them all.”