END OF AN ERA

A DROMORE newsagents sold its last paper on Sunday, so ending an era thought to date back to the 1950s, when it was hailed one of the biggest outside Belfast for sales of one local daily.

Ingram's Newsagents in Bridge Street is no more; while the shop itself will remain open, it will no longer trade in newspapers and magazines.

Though quick to thank his customers, owner, Gareth Ingram, said that ultimately there was too much competition and too many locals shopped out of town, making it difficult for smaller retailers to survive, particularly in the current economic climate.

With his announcement came a plea to his customers to support the nearby Graham's newsagents, who had agreed, he said, to take on and home deliver whatever newspaper or magazine orders they might have.

In a letter to customers, he told them it would great if they could support Graham's, as town centre shops needed all the help they could get.

"I have taken this decision very reluctantly," said Mr. Ingram. "I hate letting people down.

"A lot of my customers are upset about it; I know some who have been getting their papers here from day one. Some of them are in their 80s and 90s and still getting their papers here."

According to Mr. Ingram, whose shop will remain open, stocking a wider range of sweets, tobacco, gifts, birthday items, toys an so on, a lack of sufficient footfall meant he was making a loss on newspaper and magazine sales.

"Out-of-town shops have definitely done damage," he said. "There's just not the same footfall."

In his letter to customers, Mr. Ingram said he had hoped to restore the shop's flagging fortunes when he took ownership almost two years ago, but cosmetic changes and additional lines of stock had failed to have the desired effect.

He wrote, "There are too many other shops in the town selling newspapers and magazines. We do not sell in large enough volume to make any profit from them."

Mr. Ingram said he wanted to publicly thank all of his customers for their support, particularly any he might have overlooked with his letter.

In it, he added, "I would like to take time and thank you for supporting the shop over the time I have had it; I do feel sad in doing this as I feel as if I am letting people down, but I need to if the shop is going to stay open."

Mr. Ingram is the latest in a line of proprietors at the Bridge Street newsagents, opened, we're told, by Mr. E. McCracken and taken over upon his retirement by Mr. Rodney Murdock.

He was followed by Mr. Rodney Bickerstaff, then Mr. Brian Whitten, and finally, prior to Mr. Ingram, by Jenny Sproule and Tanya Gibson, who traded as 'Moo Moos News'.