THE owner of a long-established Strabane family business says it feels like there has ‘been a death in the family’ after having to pull down the shutters on his shop for the last time.
Brendan Patton of the Sports Centre in Upper Main Street says he will now have to sign on for Jobseeker’s Allowance as he closes the shop after over four decades providing the town with bikes and specialist sports equipment.
“The shop has been here 42 years,” he said. “My father owned if and when he died I took it over. It is a really sad time for us. We had three staff here and a couple of part-time staff also. We loved it here. It was fantastic.
“We closed because business just wasn’t happening here this last while.
“This part of the town has just gone dead. I was up against it here paying out money all the time and not making any money.
“I think parking problems would be part out it too. You have the other side of the town and everyone is parking for free over there. Rates are scandalously high and they are trying to put them up again. We just couldn’t keep up to it.”
Brendan says he and the staff are emotional about pulling down the shutters and that he faces the daunting task of registering himself unemployed after working since he was a teenager.
“It’s a sad, sad day for us,” he says. “We are getting ourselves organised and getting closed up now. I don’t know what I’m going to do.
“I will have to sign on the dole. I have never signed on in my life. I have been a working man my entire adult life. It is desperately sad.”