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Gluten free food store shuts up shop

Kirsty and Chloe Howard. Kirsty now plans to explore selling home-cooked produce at local markets
Kirsty and Chloe Howard. Kirsty now plans to explore selling home-cooked produce at local markets

The owner of The Gluten Free Food Store has shut up shop, saying the business still has not recovered from losses made during the construction of the Heritage Triangle.

Kirsty Howard, who ran the store in Cobbs Yard, Diss, with her daughter Chloe, said the construction work affected business to such an extent that many traders are still feeling the pinch.

The Gluten Free Food Store is the second shop to close in the Heritage Triangle within the last two months, citing the £3.4 million project to revamp the area, which meant road closures for a period of three months, as “the final straw”.

In June, Kristian Wimshurst said trade had not returned to the same level since the project was completed in August. He has taken the decision to close Diss Antiques in Mount Street and restart the business from his home in Roydon.

“For three months, the work stopped all trade and it wasn’t until Christmas that people started to trickle back,” said Mrs Howard, who lives in Eye. “Even then, it wasn’t in the numbers we had hoped for.

“The problem though is wider than just the Heritage Triangle.

“Every year since we opened, there have been constant roadworks in and around town. Then construction work started on the triangle and we found people were shopping elsewhere.

“Diss needs a decent road system and decent parking, along with people who are prepared to pay to park.”

Both Mrs Howard, who started the business in 2016, and her daughter suffer from coeliac disease – a condition eased by gluten-free food, which is also said to help people with conditions including irritable bowel syndrome and allergies.

Chloe has now gone on to train as a geography teacher.

“Chloe leaving meant I would be running the business alone and I just couldn’t justify 12 hours a day balanced against the continuing lack of trade,” said Mrs Howard.

“Diss a beautiful town with a lot going for it. There has, however, I feel, also been a lack of support from local customers for Heritage Triangle traders, which is sad.”

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