For more than 140 years, it was at the very core of life in Oakengates but now W Owen has closed for the last time.
For more than 140 years, it was at the very core of life in Oakengates. Throughout the decades W Owen sold everything from cycles to paper, hay and seed to the first 9ins black and white television sets in the area.
But now Owen’s has closed for the last time and with it a chapter of life in Oakengates has also closed. Shop owner Janet Owen has blamed the economic crisis and internet shopping for the firm’s demise.
She said: “It’s a very, very competitive market and I think a lot of our demise has been down to the internet.
“Their overheads are not the same as ours. Manufacturers sell to them because they will buy in bulk and they have monopolised the market. It’s all down to the economic position.
“I don’t feel as though I’m retiring because there are still a lot of things to do, but then I suppose I will retire unless I go into some venture with my daughter, which is possible.”
She said the Owen family first opened a business in the town in about 1872, when Charles Owen set up as a hay and seed merchant. Over the years the business developed into a grocery and greengrocery then, in 1901, William Owen, Charles’s son, opened his own store.
Mrs Owen said: “We have since been printers and stationers and had charabancs and taxis. They then did accumulators for radios and progressed into black and white televisions. We sold the first 9ins televisions in the area.
“It’s about 70 years we have been in radio and televisions. We also did white goods in the 40s, 50s and into the 60s, but that became very competitive so we decided to just do the brown goods.
“We had a booming television rental base of 2,000 people but that has dwindled to less than 100, although many of those same people who left the rental base came back to us as customers who bought televisions.”
The shop closed last week and Mrs Owen is now winding up the business.
By Ann Clarkson