The heartbreaking reason Shephards sweet shop is closing its doors after 81 years

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 9 Mar 2018

For 81 years, the Shephard family have been keeping north Hull supplied with their gumdrops, toffees and other sweet treats.

But to the dismay of generations of families who have relied on Shephards - or Shep's, as it is affectionately known - in Greenwood Avenue to satisfy their sweet tooth, owner Carol Shephard has decided to shut up shop.

The move comes almost a year after the sudden death of Carol's beloved husband, Dave, who suffered a heart attack in the shop, which the couple had ran since 1982.

Fighting back tears, Carol, who turns 70 on Sunday, said: "It's an end of an era. I feel very emotional about it all. It's been my life. I've managed a year here without Dave, but it's getting harder to move around. I'm not getting any younger, and it's the right time to retire."

Dave's parents, George and Laura Shephard, opened the shop in April 1937. When George died in 1967, his widow took over, with Dave becoming a partner.

Laura died in 1982, prompting their son, who had just left the RAF, and his wife to take over the running of the business.

Carol, who does not have any children of her own, says it fills her with delight when people she served as children now bring their children to spend their pocket money.

"Dave always said that Shephards must now be serving a sixth generation," she said. "We certainly have plenty of fifth generation customers."

Dave's sister Sandra, 78, has long helped Carol in the shop, support which has been especially welcome in the past year.

Shephards has seen its fair share of changes over the decades.

CLOSING: Shephards sweet shop in Greenwood Avenue, north Hull (Image: Jerome Ellerby)

"A lot of businesses have come and gone over the years," said Carol. "Back in the late 60s, we had Beard's fruit shop, Renardson's , which was a butcher's shop, Ireland paper shop, a fish shop and Dennis, the barber's."

Like pubs, sweet shops have face stiff competition from supermarkets. "Sweets can be bought from the supermarkets cheaper than we can buy them from the manufacturers," said Carol. "It's very difficult for small shops like us to survive."

Despite pressures to stock the latest 'must have' confectionery, Carol insists Shephards has always stayed true to its "traditional values" - a key reason, she suggests, behind the longevity of the family business.

SWEET TREATS: Shephard's stocks everything from wine gums to sweet peanuts

"Dave refused to sell gobstoppers," she said. "He was worried a child would choke on them. He really cared about our customers. We have always tried to help the community.

"We sell tubs and bags of mixed sweets, but we don't put bubble gum in them. Again, we're worried children could choke on them. If parents want their children to have it, we will always add some. But they have to ask us."

Maxine Moffat has worked at the shop for the past 24 years. "Sheps has always been here," she said. "It really is the end of an era for north Hull."

REGULAR CUSTOMER: Tony Binns' family have been coming to the shop for over 40 years

Tony Binns, 71, of 8th Avenue, is a regular customer. "It's a good shop," he said. "My family has been coming here for 40-odd years. I'll be sad to see it close but times change."

The shop will close at the end of the month.

On the way out, past the Walkers toffees, candy teeth, flying saucers, torpedoes and rainbow drops, we asked Carol to name the one sweet that gets her taste buds tingling.

"Oh, I don't like the boiled sweets!" she said, looking towards the bars of Fry's. "I prefer a good bar of chocolate."

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