Hastings shop abandons plan to be cash only

A new Hastings Old Town shop that had aimed to be cash only has been forced to re-think after just over a month of being open.

Arkwhites Best Before Store opened in mid-December offering heavily discounted foodstuff and other items.

It has already attracted a lot of interest and built up a loyal customer base, but it seems people are reluctant or unable to pay in cash. Now owner Alex White, who for many years ran the popular Whites Seafood restaurant at the other end of George Street, has given in to the demand and decided to get a card machine.

Alex says he wanted to be cash only on principal as he doesn’t believe in a cashless society but admitted: “If I had a penny for every time someone has tried to pay with a card in the last month. Cash is king for me, but most youngsters think the card is king. I would really like to stay just cash but come summertime when George Street is packed with card paying customers, maybe its the way forward. The preferred payment is still cash, but cards will still be grudgingly accepted. We will have a card machine set up soon.”

Alex told the Observer: “Several times I have had customers leave full bags of shopping saying they will come back when they have got some cash, but then they never return. The other day there was a group of four people and they could not find two pounds in cash between them. It seems really strange to me that visitors arrive for a day out in Hastings without any cash in their pockets.”

The family run shop is open from 11am – around 4pm, but closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. it offers many big brand names such as Heinz, Hellmans, Doritos, Oreos and Blue Dragon at heavily discounted prices. It sells tins, jars and packet food that is near, or just over, it’s best before date, although many of items on sale have a best before date well into 2024.

Alex, who is Hastings Old Town born and bred, explained the ethos behind the shop: “A big part of why I decided to open the shop was wanting to help local people who are struggling with the cost of living crisis. The cost of items in supermarkets seem to have gone through the roof.”

Some residents have pointed out that it is not always straightforward to withdraw cash in the Old Town. The only street ATM, which is only a few yards away from the shop, charges for withdrawals.

The other shop in the area which remains cash only is the Black Gull bookshop at London Road, St Leonards, but that has an ATM right next door.