One of Blackpool’s best known furniture stores is set to close its doors after 15 years in business.
Paul Gaunt furniture on Abbey Road, South Shore, is to shut for good this month, following a £1m closing down sale, as its owner moves on to other projects.
Mr Gaunt, who said he sold his first sofa at the age of seven, explained the time had come for a change as the way people bought their furniture and the industry had changed radically.
He said the birth of his daughter Isla at the turn of the year had inspired him and his wife Ellie to look for a new challenge.
He said: “I am retiring from the furniture industry to concentrate on new projects.
“I have been in the business since I left King Edward school on July 2, 1982 at the age of 16.
“My parents were in furniture and had the Doorway to Value store in Chorley before they sold up in 1999.
“I then opened up here concentrating on the top quality, luxury end of the market.
“But the retail world has changed as everyone knows. The internet has altered everything.
“Many people buy things online without actually seeing them which I find strange. There is no personal touch.
“Since the economic downturn and the banking crisis people have been more careful with their money and their retail patterns have changed.
“Around 10 years ago the door to China opened up and many retailers thought that was the way to go, but that turned out not to be the golden goose.
“That was never my style. We have always concentrated on British made top quality furniture and wanted to support our own industry.”
Last year he closed down his warehouse on Amy Johnson Way and on May 30 will shut the Abbey Road store which employs seven people.
Mr Gaunt famously had his own Blackpool tram which he had kept at the warehouse, before it was vandalised and he sold it to a Marton Moss man who wanted to convert it into a home.
He added: “I must have had 20,000 customers over the years and I would like to thank them all for their support and thank our staff too.
“A lot of the people working in the furniture shop are very experienced, many have been with us since we opened and for them too I think it is the right time to move on.
“It would be nice to see some of the customers and staff from down the years once more before we closed on May 30.”
“We have been working towards this closure for a number of weeks and months but obviously this is a big step to take.
“Having Isla has really focussed our minds on what is important in life, so now is the right time to make the change.”