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Shoppers flock to Bluck’s sale

The Bluck's liquidation sale yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Shoppers flocked to a Hamilton china store sale yesterday as the firm prepared to shut up shop after 175 years in the business.

Melanie Hocking, 39, wanted to buy replacement china for Greenbank Guesthouse in Paget, which is owned by her family, before Bluck’s on Front Street closed its doors for the last time.

Ms Hocking, said that she was friends with the store’s owners, the Darling family, and was a regular shopper.

“I’ve been a lot since my wedding because we’ve been slowly buying pieces,” she added.

Ms Hocking said the closure of the store was the “end of an era”.

She explained: “I just like the traditions that it sort of represented, like having family friends over for dinner or champagne in really nice crystal glasses.

“I’m a traditional person, even though this is quite a modern store.”

Ms Hocking said that finding a new source for fine china would be difficult.

Carol Ashton, her mother, added: “For 40 years we’ve been using Herend China at the guesthouse and I don’t know where I’ll be getting it from now on.

“Herend isn’t an inexpensive accessory to have at a guesthouse but we pride ourselves on having it.”

She added: “It’s sad, but it’s a sign of the times. It’s an opportunity for somebody else hopefully.

The store attracted repeat customers as well as first-time buyers for the first day of its 50 per cent off liquidation sale.

Omar Dill, 31, said that the liquidation gave him the opportunity to buy a porcelain vase from the store for the first time.

He explained: “I’ve never been here before. This is the first time ever.

“It’s all about value for money — why not take advantage of it?”

He said: “It’ll just be a little something for my bathroom — I think it would look nice.”

Mr Dill, from Devonshire, said that the closure of the store was down to the growth of online shopping at the expense of traditional stores.

He explained: “If you look at all the big stores in America, the same thing’s happening because everything’s online.

“You can look at Sears, Walmart — if it’s not on Amazon, it’s not worth it.”

Peter Hebberd, from Pembroke, who worked at Bluck’s for more than 20 years, said he had a personal connection through “a lot of legacy”.

He added: “I worked here for 21 years and my mother started here in 1935, so I’m very sad to see it go.”

The 63-year-old started in the store at 13 and later moved into advertising for Bluck’s until he left in 1989.

Mr Hebberd, now with advertising agency AAC, still visited the store to see former colleagues and add to his collection of porcelain animals.

He said: “It’s a shame that something that’s been an institution of 175 years has to go.”

Mr Hebberd agreed the closure was a sign of changed shopping habits.

He said: “It’s just a different age, sadly.”

He added: “You can’t take the place of an institution like this — it’s just not possible.”

Peter Darling, the owner of Bluck’s, was not available for comment.