City shop owner ‘fighting bus gates’ to stay alive

Grampian Health Shop on Market Street

A CITY centre shop owner has admitted “bus gates chaos” is making it a challenge for them to run their three-decade-old shop on Market Street.

Stephanie Hundtofte and sister Sarah-Jayne Farman took over the Grampian Health Store in January.

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After original “great enthusiasm” at running the business, Stephanie said they didn’t envisage “fighting the bus gates” as being their main issue in their first few months in charge.

“We thought it will be all about getting to know the business, getting to know the stock, meeting the staff, the customers…not fighting the bus gates,” she said.

Stephanie told the P&J she didn’t regret taking on the business, but said if she was offered a unit on Union Street she “absolutely would not” take it on:

“We are doing as much as we can. We can have offers, we can have promotions, we can do all these different things in store – but we need to be able to physically get people to walk through that door.

“And we hear this all the time: ‘I don’t come into town’, ‘I prefer to shop in places like in Inverurie or Westhill’, ‘It’s just easier to shop online’.

“People are just confused. And then a high percentage of our customers are elderly, so you have to factor in mobility or potentially health issues – it’s just hard for them to access the store.”

Stephanie is not the only business owner to suggest that Aberdeen’s loss could turn out to be Aberdeenshire’s gain.

In the last few weeks, similar concerns were voiced by the bosses of other city centre staples such as Douglas Hotel, furniture store Annie Mo’s and Finnies the Jeweller.

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