Last hardware store soon to close its doors

Morris and Vivien Southcombe and their son Richard.

Morris and Vivien Southcombe and their son Richard. - Credit: Archant

AFTER more than five decades serving the Weston-super-Mare community, a well-loved shop is closing its doors and its owners retiring from the business.

For many people, Southcombe’s hardware store has become synonymous with the Milton Road shopping scene, and a mainstay of Milton life.

But in January, owners Morris and Vivien Southcombe will be locking up the shop for the final time.

Morris, aged 75, opened Southcombe’s in November 1960 – aged just 20 – and five years later after marrying Vivien the couple bought the shop outright.

When the shop opened it was one of 17 specialist hardware stores in the town, but now it is the last one remaining.

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Morris said: “I have done 55 years, and Vivien has done 50. It started off as a very tiny little shop and then we bought the next door and extended out.

“I worked for a hardware shop in Taunton and decided I could probably do just as well on my own. I found this small shop in Weston. I suppose I was quite young to go on my own.

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“We bought the premises in 1965 when we got married and my dear wife has been in the business ever since. We’ve lived here since then.”

Although some shops have struggled to thrive in the modern era of internet shopping, faithful customers have kept Southcombe’s from feeling the strain.

Morris said: “The loyal, kind people of Milton have looked after us, kept us going. It’s a village atmosphere in a way.

“I hope I gave them good value and service. They have obviously supported me very well

“We kept going really well considering the competition – we did really well. I’ve not really suffered from bigger businesses or the internet, it’s just after 55 years it’s time to go.”

Vivien, aged 72, and Morris are not abandoning Milton life and still hope to live on the premises but let out the shop.

They confess retirement would not come easily after so many years of working, and Morris said: “I will be catching up on things I have not been able to do, like gardening and some DIY. And we have travelled a fair bit but we will probably do a bit more.

“We will be able to see a bit more of our daughter who lives in Oxfordshire and our little grandson.

“It will probably take a bit of adjusting but I am sure I shan’t be idle. I am not one for sitting around.”

Vivien joked that she had plenty of jobs around the house for Morris to tackle, but admitted it would be hard to walk away from a store which has played such a big part in their lives.

She said: “There is sadness and I think there might be a few tears on the last day. It’s been a long time. If it wasn’t for our age we would stay on.

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