A much-loved Shaftesbury business has ceased trading. Box of Allsorts, formerly The Toy Box, has been a fixture on Shaftesbury’s High Street since 2007. In April 2017, owners Mark and Sharon Horsman changed the store’s name to reflect an increased range of merchandise that included kitchenware and later books.
The chairman of Shaftesbury Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Edwyn-Jones, was saddened by today’s news. “Box of Allsorts was a lovely shop and a great resource for the town. It is a huge shame that it is closing. The business will be greatly missed,” she said.
For the last four years, Shaftesbury resident Bill Sherriff has bought selections of educational toys in the store before delivering them to the Shaftesbury Primary, Abbey Primary and Fontmell Magna Schools for staff to distribute them to the children. “I’ve bought a lot of toys from Box of Allsorts – scientific things, like potato batteries and weather charts that will give youngsters a run into basic science. Sharon and Mark were very understanding,” Bill said.
He bought additional items in the shop’s recent sale for local kids. “I’ve got things here that are yet to go out.” But Bill was upset when he called in today and saw the shelves being cleared. He says that Mark took him to one side and informed him of the closure. Mr Sherriff says he hopes that the owners and the staff are successful with their future endeavours.
A quick read through the store’s Facebook page reveals how locals have frequently praised this local independent’s customer service. The closure of Box of Allsorts will be felt across the wider community. The business was a strong supporter of local initiatives including fundraising events at Shaftesbury Primary School, Chamber of Commerce activities and, in particular, as a sponsor and strong backer of Shaftesbury Carnival. This September, Box of Allsorts won the Carnival window display competition with their scarecrow.
Karen Hardwick is the owner of Cranborne’s, another of Shaftesbury’s independent businesses. Her shop is next door to Box of Allsorts. “We are very saddened to see our neighbours close,” she said. “Having grown up in Shaftesbury, so many of us have either worked there or shopped there and made many friends along the way.”
Vice-chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, David Perry, owns Shaftesbury Wines, the neighbouring business on the other side. “Mark and Sharon are lovely people who joined in. They worked very hard and tried everything to keep going. Their sudden closure is very sad and I feel for them,” David said.
The owners closed their Sherborne shop in August 2016 before concentrating on the Shaftesbury business. At the time, they stated that reduced footfall in Sherborne, the closure of Sherborne Hotel and internet and mobile phone shopping had influenced that decision.
David has urged locals to consider how shopping online or at retail parks impacts on our town’s traders. “I don’t know, so I can’t comment on what went wrong, other than to point to the obvious cliché of ‘use it or lose it’,” David said.
In August, Sharon Horsman took on the Tuesday Slimming World groups at the Royal Chase Hotel. These sessions have been promoted in the window of the shop. They will continue as normal.