Two well-loved York shops close suddenly – to the dismay of their customers

Goodbye… and thank you. John Bulmer and Jo Helliwell of Bulmers and Blossom & Walker. Photograph: Richard McDougall
1 Feb 2016 @ 11.59 am
| Business, News, Shopping

Two of York’s best known family-run shops have closed suddenly.

Bulmers, which has been open since 1959, and Blossom & Walker, both on Lord Mayor’s Walk, announced their joint closure on social media.

The two shops are run by different members of the same family. Mick and John Bulmer set up Bulmers, and Mick’s daughter Jo Helliwell set up Blossom & Walker in March 2004.

Blossom and Walker sold a diverse range of goods for the home and garden, and was popular for selling gifts for all ages and unusual stylish decorations, signs, candles and homeware.

Jo and her brother John Bulmer Jr, who took over Bulmers from his father, have been involved with the business since they were children.

They said closing the shops was a difficult decision to make. “Our customers have been absolutely amazing,” said Jo.

“We want to thank them for all their love and support.”

Long history

The same sad story at Bulmers, trading in York since 1959
Bulmers: closed after trading in York since 1959

Bulmers was quite a different shop when John and Mick set it up 57 years ago. Then it was more in the style of the junk shop in Steptoe & Son, Jo said.

“You literally didn’t know what you were going to find in a box. There was no secondhand shop in York before.”

John said:

They didn’t have a telephone. But there was a telephone box nearby and they used that as the phone.

When it rang they ran across to answer it – they could hear it because there weren’t that many cars about.

Their parents changed the style of the shop and its stock to suit the changing market, which is why it had thrived for so many years.

John Jr, now 51, and Jo, 47, remember sitting on the counter as young children. They started working in the shop aged about 14.

Later Jo met her future husband there, “while serving him a pint of maggots, when the corner shop was the tackle shop”.

Some of the old pictures of Bulmers displayed on the window
Some of the old pictures of Bulmers displayed on the window

Cracking Christmas

John said both businesses had enjoyed record Christmas sales. They only took the decision to close in January, and it seemed right to go out on top.

“I have been in the shop for 37 years,” he said. “We felt it was the right time for pastures new, and new horizons.”

The family own the buildings which house both shops, including the Grade II listed Victorian property which joins on to Monkgate.

They said they are open to offers, including to take over the existing businesses as a going concern.

“There’s still a market there,” John said. “People like to buy from independent shops.”

If not they will sell off the remaining stock privately.

Inside Blossom and Walker, with its eclectic range of gifts and homeware
Inside Blossom and Walker, with its eclectic range of gifts and homeware
No longer open – the Blossom & Walker door
No longer open – the Blossom & Walker door

Jo and John want to spend more time with their parents “who haven’t been too well recently”. Their own children are not interested in taking over the businesses.

They employed one part time and two full time members of staff, and were helping them to find new jobs.

In a message posted both on social media and the shop windows, they broke the sad news to customers:

“SO LONG, FAREWELL, AUF WIEDERSEHEN, GOOD NIGHT”

After much deliberation, we have taken the joint personal decision that now is the appropriate time to close our 57 year old business, in order to prioritise our families.

We would like to thank our AMAZING customers (a lot of which we are proud to call our friends) for all their loyalty and support over the years.

Thanks for the memories.

‘I will miss you guys’

King of the corner: Bulmers in the foreground with Blossom & Walker further back
King of the corner: Bulmers in the foreground with Blossom & Walker further back

Closing both shops will leave a big gap on Lord Mayor’s Walk. The news comes two weeks after another iconic family-run store, Mulberry Hall, announced it was set to close.

Customers of both shops responded with dismay to what many regard as the end of an era.

Some of the responses to the Bulmer closure announcement on Facebook:

Whaaaat? Noooo! When is your last day? What’s happening to the stock? Thanks for being such a good shop

– Matthew Corry

Say it aint so! Ebay/china will be getting all of my money now, I can never find the things I need elsewhere!

– Petrol Cow

So sad, I will miss you guys so much!

– Dave Hardy

John and Jo outside the family business on Monkgate
John and Jo outside the family business on Monkgate
The families behind both stores said many customers had become their friends
The families behind both stores said many customers had become their friends

And here are some of the Facebook comments for Blossom & Walker:

Nooooooooooo! That’s so sad. My most favourite shop in the UK! There is no other shop where you are made to feel so welcome and with such beautiful stock.

– Katie Edwards

This is very sad news. Absolutely the loveliest shop in York and will always have fond memories from being unable to resist frequently popping in when living on Lord Mayor’s Walk

– Emma Lucy Randle

Oh my god I’m absolutely GUTTED it’s my favourite shop! All the best ladies, you have kitted out my first home, and my most recent.

– Vain Spanner

Loads of household names dying, favourite York guest house flooded and now Blossom & Walker closing its doors! 2016 is pants. It was even a haven for blokes

– Kevin Brooks