RESIDENTS have shared their heartbreak after a beloved craft and fabrics shop announced sudden plans to close.

Following 45 years of loyal service to residents in Wantage the family-run business Blanshards announced it will shut its doors in the coming months.

Derek Blanshard, who owns the Wallingford Street store famous for fabrics, knitting supplies and craft materials, announced the news on Facebook last week.

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He wrote: “Sadly, I have made the decision not to take on a new lease when our current one expires in a few months’ time.

“I am sorry to say then that the shop will be closing as soon as we have sold the majority of the current stock.

“Over the past few years as people have changed their shopping habits our turnover has dropped considerably.

“It has become increasingly obvious to me that our businesses model is no longer sustainable in the climate we find ourselves in.”

Mr Blanshard also thanked past and present customers for making Blanshards such a success since it opened in the 1960s.

Tributes from devastated shoppers poured on social media.

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One Facebook user Kat Cannings wrote under the announcement: “I am so sad about this, I have loved popping in every now and then.

“I remember going in with my nans when it was across the road and also with my mum - everyone has always been so nice, especially when I started sewing and needed advice.”

Another resident Catherine Bulpitt said: “So sad to hear this.

“I just finished making a dress with material from you - thank you so much for all the advice and help you have given to me and many many others.”

Wantage residents shared heartwarming personal stories connected with the retailer.

Hazel Turner and Annabelle Henderson reminisced of old times when the shop first opened doors in the early 1970s.

Both women remembered working at Blanshards during weekends and holidays, and helping to open the Abingdon branch.

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Ms Turner said: “The store was a big part of my life, I am sad to hear this news and wish you all the best for the future.”

Another local shopper Rebecca Hyde revealed fond childhood memories of Blanshards.

Ms Hyde explained she started her first ever business aged 11.

She sold hair ruffles at school made out of satin dress lining and other materials purchased from the store.

The resident added: “It is these little things that get us going in life and crafts.

“I am sad our town cannot support and sustain more wonderful little shops like yours.”

Blanshards first opened at 21 Wallingford Street where it stayed until that building's demolition in 2011.

The neglected space in the centre of Wantage was empty until last week when 27-year-old entrepreneur Rachael Robb was handed over the keys to one of the two adjacent retail premises in the development.

She has now opened her own business, a fitness and sports centre called Pilates Playroom.