Owner speaks out following Horsham store closure

Samuel Parker has closed in Middle Street
Samuel Parker has closed in Middle Street

The owner of a long-standing Horsham store which shut up shop suddenly in the town centre has spoken out about the closure.

Michael and Margaret Cockerilll have run fine china and gift specialists Samuel Parker in Middle Street for more than 27 years.

This week shoppers were left in a state of shock after walking past the store to find notices plastered around the outside building announcing it had shut.

Speaking to the County Times Michael said he was sad to be saying goodbye to the shop but explained this wasn’t the end for the business.

He said: “We have enjoyed nearly every second of it. Although because we have enjoyed it in the shop I think it has masked the fact we have been flogging a bit of a dead horse probably since the 2007 banking crisis.”

“There’s only one thing that you know (in business), you have got to have what somebody else wants to buy. The blame is we didn’t have enough things in the shop people wanted to buy.”

Michael and Margaret first opened the store in the town centre in November 1991.

In that time the pair have served thousands of customers, helping to find perfect gifts whilst also being on hand to offer advice to those in difficult situations.

He said: “We sort of have a family joke, every Christmas Day. We sit down and have dinner and somebody always pipes up and says I wonder how may people are having dinner on plates we have sold them.”

But selling fine china wasn’t always Michael’s speciality. He had spent the past 23 years working in IT before reaching the top in that field and deciding he wanted a new challenge.

He said: “I had a total change because I like to climb hills. I didn’t even know the price of a cup, I had never sold a cup in my life.”

Despite his lack of experience he and his wife made a success of the store before landing on tough times recently.

However, the adventure is not over for the duo. Michael, who has also taken on a new role as a parish councillor, explained there were exciting times ahead for the business with the pair looking to open a market stall in the Carfax.

He said: “It’s sad that we are closing after 27 years. I said to so many people they would have to take me out of the shop in my coffin because I loved going in everyday.

“The thing we will look forward to is getting on the market. We feel like we are going back to being excited like a five-year-old child.”

In the meantime the business will continue to run online through the company’s website and ebay page.