'Middle class women kept stealing my wool' says trader as she shuts shop

Azize Stirling outside her Walton Street shop which is closing after 22 years because of expensive rent and rates, and people stealing wool. Picture: OX53996 Damian Halliwell

Azize Stirling outside her Walton Street shop which is closing after 22 years because of expensive rent and rates, and people stealing wool. Picture: OX53996 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

MIDDLE class women shoplifting wool have contributed to the demise of a independent haberdashery in Oxford, it was claimed last night.

Port Meadow in Jericho will be close down this month after 22 years of selling wool after being hit by a spate of thefts.

Owner Azizë Stirling said she had had enough of people walking off with her wool without paying for it.

She said: “One of the reasons I am closing down is the shoplifting. I get middle-class women who think that somebody owes them something, stealing my wool.”

She said she never reported it to the police because she did not think there was anything they could do about it.

She said: “It was quite easy for me to know wool was being stolen. We used to do inventories and would count up how much wool we had and compare it with what we had sold.”

Ms Stirling also hit out at the costs of running a shop in Oxford, claiming it could spell an end to independent stores in the city.

She said: “You make so little money that you get tired of it year after year. Every time you manage to increase your growth it just gets taken away from you.

“Individual and independent shops will be a thing of the past because the large landlords in Oxford are just interested in the bottom line.”

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Last year she paid more than £18,000 in rent and about £4,600 in business rates.

When she first started her business, Ms Stirling paid in the region of £200 a month in business rates but it has more than doubled now to £460. The Walton Street shop will be closing down for good on Sunday, September 30.

She hopes to forge a new career out of teaching the Alexander technique, which teaches people how to stand and sit differently to eliminate tension in their bodies.

Richard Bailey, who owns Daisies Flower Shop in Walton Street, said: “We are very sad Port Meadow is closing down. It is a one-off shop, which is getting rarer.

“I couldn’t agree more with Azize about rents and rates and the problem is that when these shops leave they tend to be replaced with things like estate agents.”

Oxford City Council is responsible for collecting business rates, which are paid into a central pool. The Government then gives each council a share of the money.

City council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “Every five years all non-domestic properties are subject to revaluation. This is carried out by the Valuation Office Agency to ensure they are kept up to date and reflect changes in the property market.

“You can appeal against your business rates through the valuation office.”

Comments (9)

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12:43pm Fri 14 Sep 12

DoctorBob says...

You can thieve, you can steal, you can loot, just make sure you are wearing a suit.
You can thieve, you can steal, you can loot, just make sure you are wearing a suit. DoctorBob
  • Score: -6

1:22pm Fri 14 Sep 12

WitneyGreen says...

I'm sorry to see the shop close, but if shoplifing was as serious a problem as the owner says she was utterly foolish not to contact the police and have CCTV installed.
I'm sorry to see the shop close, but if shoplifing was as serious a problem as the owner says she was utterly foolish not to contact the police and have CCTV installed. WitneyGreen
  • Score: 0

2:04pm Fri 14 Sep 12

bart-on simpson says...

She said: “One of the reasons I am closing down is the shoplifting. I get middle-class women who think that somebody owes them something, stealing my wool.”

What an odd, woolly observation: what makes them middle-class? Who owes them what?
She said: “One of the reasons I am closing down is the shoplifting. I get middle-class women who think that somebody owes them something, stealing my wool.” What an odd, woolly observation: what makes them middle-class? Who owes them what? bart-on simpson
  • Score: -5

2:59pm Fri 14 Sep 12

CowleyBoy says...

If it was a big enough problem to shut the place down, then these ladies must have been ram-raiding the place with their Range Rovers. Just an opportunity to have a pop at anyone richer than her, methinks. The bigger issue here is rent increases.
If it was a big enough problem to shut the place down, then these ladies must have been ram-raiding the place with their Range Rovers. Just an opportunity to have a pop at anyone richer than her, methinks. The bigger issue here is rent increases. CowleyBoy
  • Score: 6

4:16pm Fri 14 Sep 12

ger elttil OX2 0EJ says...

It is probably because her shop was aimed at the "new age" customer, and 10-15 years ago it was all the rage and she had many customers in The Jericho area, but as these customers have grown and have either moved on or have families of their own they are now middle class, and the "new age" fad has passed and a new fashion has taken over for the young. It is like all businesses you spot a niche and exploit it, but you must also know when to move on. With all the spare money now in Jericho and Walton Manor and families with young kids, a decent video games/mobile phone shop would probably be a good bet for the forseeable.
It is probably because her shop was aimed at the "new age" customer, and 10-15 years ago it was all the rage and she had many customers in The Jericho area, but as these customers have grown and have either moved on or have families of their own they are now middle class, and the "new age" fad has passed and a new fashion has taken over for the young. It is like all businesses you spot a niche and exploit it, but you must also know when to move on. With all the spare money now in Jericho and Walton Manor and families with young kids, a decent video games/mobile phone shop would probably be a good bet for the forseeable. ger elttil OX2 0EJ
  • Score: -56

6:56pm Fri 14 Sep 12

xjohnx says...

I seriously doubt the veracity of this story.
I seriously doubt the veracity of this story. xjohnx
  • Score: 3

9:42pm Fri 14 Sep 12

Bladder says...

These middle class women must have looked a bit sheepish !
These middle class women must have looked a bit sheepish ! Bladder
  • Score: 10

11:02am Sat 15 Sep 12

shinyp says...

I'm really surprised anyone was able to steal her wool - she'd stare at you like you were *going* to steal it every time you shopped there. Even though I am a knitter who lived in Jericho for a while, I preferred to drive all the way to Abingdon for my wool!
I'm really surprised anyone was able to steal her wool - she'd stare at you like you were *going* to steal it every time you shopped there. Even though I am a knitter who lived in Jericho for a while, I preferred to drive all the way to Abingdon for my wool! shinyp
  • Score: 9

11:23pm Sat 15 Sep 12

earth worm says...

I agree with shinyp - she was a very intimidating shop keeper. I only went in there once and she made me feel most unwelcome. I never went back.
I agree with shinyp - she was a very intimidating shop keeper. I only went in there once and she made me feel most unwelcome. I never went back. earth worm
  • Score: 9

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