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Deli owner waves goodbye to "precious" High Street but vows to return
A DELICATESSEN owner swapping the High Street for the internet said she will sad to wave goodbye to such a "precious" town, but has vowed to return.
Martina Hunt, who opened artisan produce shop Gather and Hunt in Marlow 18 months ago, says market forces and shopping habits are behind the decision to make the jump.
But the innovative former City lawyer, who fell in love with the town after moving from London in 2012, said she will not abandoning her loyal Marlow customer base.
She said: "We have decided that the future of Gather & Hunt is better focussed on the online and corporate and gift markets and pop-up stores rather than a permanent retail site in Marlow.
"So for all our lovely customers they can now access us at www.gatherandhunt.co.uk and watch this space for where we may "pop up".
"We were warmly welcomed to Marlow and have some wonderful. loyal customers but unfortunately the high costs of trading here have made it untenable.
"It is a shame and we’ve been touched by the number of people asking ‘is there anything we can do to persuade you to stay’ but we have to innovate and move with market forces which are toward the online side, corporate relationships and pop-up opportunities."
The mother-of-three launched Gather and Hunt in September 2012 after a corporate career in law and investment banking.
Martina’s emporium stocks artisan meats, breads, cheeses and condiments as well as drinks, many of them sourced from local producers.
After building up a strong rapport with Marlow residents, she intends to return to the High Street in ‘pop-up’ form, with short term appearances in various spots at busy times such as the lead-up to Christmas.
Customers from the town can also look forward to free delivery from her website.
And the entrepreneur insists that although her own business model is taking her away from a permanent High Street presence, the unique feel of Marlow’s shopping experience must be protected.
She said: "Some shops seem to shut up shop and run away in the night but we’re not like that. We’ve put a lot of time and energy into building the brand and we want to build on that.
"It is a great town and a great spot, and we did a lot of work to retain the heritage of the shop itself which we hope the next tenant will do as well.
"The high Street is very precious and needs to be looked after. Lots of people visit Marlow and they love it. It is a beautiful high street and we have to make sure we do that."
Tim Graham, chairman of Marlow Chamber of Cmmerce, which represents the interests of the town's businesses, said it was "always a great disappointment" when independent traders find conditions unsuitable to continue on the High Street.
Though the delicatessen is not a Chamber member, Mr Graham has prevsiously lauded Gather and Hunt as a good example of the quality level of service available from independent retailers in Marlow.
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