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Lights out at shop after 91 years
4:45pm Thursday 20th February 2014 in Business news
A TRADITIONAL business that oversaw the establishment of electricity in much of North Yorkshire is set to close after 91 years.
Grandparents David and Susan Higgs will switch off the lights at Eric Thompson The Electric Shop, in Picks Lane, Thirsk, for the final time on Saturday, March 29, to begin their retirement.
The business, which continues to do all its paperwork by hand and has 9,000 hand-written accounts, has remained viable in recent years due to its loyal customer base and traditional service the couple provide, following the emergence of the internet.
Mrs Higgs said: “It would have been nice to pass the business on to somebody, but no one wants to carry it on and we can’t sell it as a going concern because everybody goes on the internet even for lightbulbs.”
Mr Higgs, 66, who has managed the electricity at Thirsk Racecourse for 50 years, joined the firm as an apprentice in July 1963.
The couple, who married in 1971 and lived above the former shop premises in Kirkgate – now the Zillah Bell Gallery - said they had felt very proud to have been left the business in the 1980s by Arthur Thompson.
From 1923, Mr Thompson’s brother, Eric, brought electricity to areas stretching from Sowerby to Catterick, and the firm has continued to offer a complete range of electrical services, down to table lamp repairs.
Mrs Higgs said: “It is more than just a shop – some customers come for a lightbulb and stay for an hour.”
“It has been our life and when I close the door I will come inside and cry my eyes out and my husband will probably be with me.”
Guy Baragwanath, chairman of Thirsk and District Business Association, said the Eric Thompson brand was well respected in Thirsk for its attention to customer service and that the firm’s closure would be a loss to the town.
He said: “It is sad that a business as well established as this is having to close down, having recently been able to weather the hardest period for traders.”