Shut up shop, open house

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The Independent Online
They don't make shoppers like they used to. Now, instead of a courteous exchange in the doorway, it's a mad rush with the trolley across the car park. One price of our haste has been the closure of shops like this old village store in the Wiltshire village of Ramsbury.

The shop has only changed hands once this century. It was bought by its present owners, the Millingtons, with a sitting tenant still running the business. When he went, it went, and the old shop space was incorporated into the rest of the house.

Now Stanley House, as it is called, has three reception rooms, three bedrooms and a large annexe at the back. It is being sold by Hamptons in Marlborough (0672 516256) with a guide price of £250,000.

Despite the closure of that store the village of Ramsbury still has several other shops, as well as a primary school, doctors' surgery, pub and church. The loss of Bury Village Stores is likely to hit the village of Bury in West Sussex a little harder.

Ken Newcombe's store serves as village shop and post office. A local prep school supplies a steady trickle of mothers at picking-up time, but it is not enough to compete with the supermarkets outside Worthing and Chichester. Business has remained steady for the past 10 years, but with more supermarkets planned, Mr Newcombe has decided it is time to sell up.

He offered the villagers half of his shop space, located in an annexe, to run as a co-operative. The village committee has decided it likes the idea, but would prefer larger premises.

Bury Village Stores looks more like a house with a shop in the front than a shop with rooms above and behind. It would easily convert into a family house with four bedrooms and four reception rooms plus a coach house behind - though it lacks a proper garden. Hamptons' Storrington office (0903 744232) is asking £189,500.

The same office is selling another village shop as a going concern - though the planners might allow it to be converted into a private house. Old Timbers is a Grade II listed, part medieval building on the High Street of Steyning in West Sussex. The front two rooms are used for an antiques business - not the only one in this prosperous town.

Main living accommodation includes a dining room, sitting room, bedroom and bathroom arranged around a pretty walled garden. At the back is an unconverted barn and annexe. The guide price is £295,000.