Gary Fellows ran Arcade Butchers in Queens Arcade for 21 years, but he said he decided to close after his rent was increased. He had to make one full-time staff member redundant.
Speaking before the closure, he said: “I have been involved in legal negotiations regarding rent increases. Sadly, these negotiations have broken down and coupled with the loss of footfall, in both the Arcade and the town centre in general, it is with regret that I am moving on after 21 years.”
His last day of trading at the Arcade was on Saturday (January 22). In a leaflet handed out to customers at the shop, he added: “I would like to thank you all for your support over the years, through both the good times and the bad. However, it is not a goodbye, I will be going to work with Sarah at The Old Butcher’s Shop in Pett, which will allow me to have a shorter working week, whilst at the same time knowing that all your butchery needs are being looked after.”
Sarah Whiteman, whose farming family established the full carcass butcher shop on Pett Road in 1934, and then began running it again in March 2020, operates a delivery service into Hastings. She said: “Since I have taken over the business Gary has been a source of advice and support to me, and it was with sadness that I have been watching the recent events unfold. We have also had the uncertainty of Covid and the realisation that as sole traders we can sometimes be quite vulnerable. It is therefore with great pleasure that we welcome Gary and his customers to our shop. I know that Gary has great relationships with his regular customers and would not want to let any of them down; a value we very much share here.”
In March last year, Queens Arcade was sold at auction for £461,000, after receiving 51 bids. Hastings and Rye MP Sally-Ann Hart had written to the building’s owners Went Tree Trust and its trustees Heringtons Solicitors asking them to “seriously consider withdrawing the property from auction”.
After the sale went ahead, Mrs Hart said: “Like the traders, and I am sure many residents in our town, I am disappointed to see the sale of this landmark building go ahead today. There were serious questions for the Went Tree Trust to answer, and the speedy process took many traders by surprise, offering them no time to respond and act.” Businesses within Queens Arcade were only given three weeks’ notice of the auction, and said they were concerned new landlords might push up rents and drive family-run businesses from the Arcade.
Queens Arcade was built in 1882. In 1924, Scottish engineer John Logie Baird gave his first public demonstration of television at the site. Many of his early experiments were carried out at his workshop above No 8 in the Arcade.