A Bridge not too far at all

Jeff Knowles and Tracey Clarke at Bridge Hardware.
Jeff Knowles and Tracey Clarke at Bridge Hardware.
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The Guardian’s Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local campaign supporting independent traders in South Holland’s towns was launched with shops like Bridge Hardware, Crowland, in mind.

Run by Jeff Knowles and Tracey Clarke since January 2012, the shop in East Street has about 7,000 different items in stock, saving customers a 17-mile round trip to similar shops in Peterborough.

Jeff said: “Myself and Tracey made a decision to have a go at starting our own business and when the shop came up for availability, we took it because I’ve worked in DIY shops and builders merchants, so I know the business well and have a lot of experience in it.

“Bridge Hardware is an old-fashioned, traditional hardware shop where you can still buy string, electrical goods and light bulbs in any amount.

“The shop has been here since the 1870s but we’ve taken it on by bringing in a key cutting service, a haberdashery where people can buy items for sewing and bottled gas.

“We have a huge and diverse range of products and we try to maintain the stock which is always a challenge.”

The refreshing thing about Jeff and Tracey is their view that maintaining Crowland’s shopping area, which also includes tea shops, a beauty salon, carpet showroom and street market on Fridays, is a joint effort that will prove beneficial to the whole town.

Jeff said: “Generallly, we get good feedback from our customers and the majority of people are very happy with what we do.

“They always support us and try to use us as much as they can, as well as letting us know how good our shop is and how many products we have.

“We feel it’s very important for people to shop locally, not just here but with the whole collective group of shops in Crowland. It’s vital that these shops survive, something we never really understood until we took over this business.”