A CLOTHES addict who set up a dress agency to share her style with others has decided to shut up shop.
Fashonista Lorna Summers started The Summerhouse after her clothes collection outgrew her home but is now holding a closing-down sale, and blames the rise in the number of charity shops and a lack of style-conscious shoppers in Herne Bay.
Mum-of-two Lorna, who also breeds papillon dogs, is planning to focus on her mobile alterations service instead, as well as face painting at events and henna tattoos which she currently does in the shop.
Lorna, of Sea Street, said: "I spent most of last year wrestling with the decision but business was really bad so I have no choice.
"I don't think Herne Bay was the best place for the shop, with hindsight. I wanted it here so I was near home for the dogs, and the children, but I think it would have worked better in Whitstable or London.
"Here, I'm competing with charity shops but I can't offer the same prices as they do. My pieces are more vintage, although I have something for all prices, but I just can't sell a skirt for £3.50 like they do.
"People just don't seem to dress up around here which I think is quite sad."
Lorna, who owns more than 250 hats and more than 150 pairs of boots, used to exhibit her wedding dress collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
She said: "I have just moved a lot of coats, including furs, into the shop, along with boots.
"There is really nowhere else locally you can get real furs and there are all sizes available.
"People love the shop when they come in but it's so hard to get them in – sometimes the town centre is dead and I don't see anyone all day.
"I don't think the parking situation helps – we are competing with Westwood Cross where you can park all day for free so you can really make a day of it and have a nice meal too.
"There are some lovely shops in Herne Bay but unless people start using them there will be none left. A lot of them are just hanging on by their fingertips."
No date has yet been set for the shop's last day, and it is open at 93 Mortimer Street every Friday and Saturday, and some Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Contact Lorna at 07768 571644 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Gift shop Odyssey also closed this week, after its owners decided to emigrate.
See the experts' view of the state of our high streets on pages 8-9.