As one door closes on Trowbridge’s oldest town centre department store, another one is about to open.
On Saturday mum Anna Carlyon became the last person to shop in HJ Knee’s Fore Street store, which has been home to the family firm for 130 years.
But opening there next week is a furniture company, which is taking over one of the empty ground floor units.
News that part of the building has been let out so quickly has been greeted with delight.
Colin Kay, president of Trowbridge Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s extremely good news and very positive for the town centre.
“It’s good that another retailer of a similar kind to Knee’s is taking its place and hopefully it will help strengthen the town centre.”
The incoming tenant is the Premier Furniture Warehouse, a new company based in Shaftesbury, Dorset, which is taking up a 4,000 sq ft unit opposite The Kings Arms in Castle Street.
Opening on May 24, the store will be run by Karl Maggs and Dermot Donaghy, who previously ran Premier Interiors in The Shires until it closed at the beginning of May.
Mr Maggs said: “It was sad for us to close up Premier Interiors, but it just wasn’t financially viable anymore.
“We got approached by Premier Furniture Warehouse about taking over the new store. They were looking for someone to manage it and we have experience.”
Mr Donaghy added: “This is an iconic building and it’s been here forever. It’s in a prime spot right in the centre of Trowbridge.
“Everyone was disappointed about Knee’s closing, but they have been really helpful to us. Hopefully this will help increase footfall and boost trade in the centre.”
HJ Knee moved to the former Comet shop at the Spitfire Retail Park in March, but the Fore Street store remained partially open until Saturday for the sale of discounted and clearance stock.
The store’s last shopper, Miss Carlyon, 35, from Trowbridge, said she has always been a loyal Knee’s customer and went along on Saturday to grab a few final bargains with her three-year-old son Mikey.
She said: “When I was walking to the shop I thought how nice it would be to be the last customer and that’s the way it worked out.
“I just purchased some curtain making equipment, but it was sad to see it shut down. I have been to the new store and it’s really nice, so I hope it goes well for them.”
Managing director Marcus Holbrow said: “It was a sad day for everyone.
"We have been in the town centre a long time and have many loyal customers, but we have now moved and hopefully we will continue to be successful.”