ONE of Swansea's best known gift stores — the Sheep Shop — is closing.
The quirky store in Castle Street has served shoppers for more than 20 years with its eccentric mix of arts and crafts, often of a Welsh or sheep-related nature.
But it is set to close by the middle of next month.
Explaining the shop's origins, owner David Taylor said: "The reason it's called the Sheep Shop is because years ago we started out with a small manufacturing business in Haverfordwest and everything we made had to do with sheep.
"We did designer knitwear, moccasin slippers, all sorts of things.
"Then someone we knew offered us the Swansea shop and we thought, why not?"
Now, after more than two decades in the sheep market, Mr Taylor is off to pastures new and a slower pace of life.
He said: "I'm 71 this week and it's about time I retired. My daughters are running the small manufacturing side of the business, so my wife and I have decided that we will not renew the lease and we can step back.
"We are just pleased to retire, enough is enough."
Sadly, for sheep-related merchandise fans, the shop is to close rather than pass into new ownership.
Mr Taylor explained: "With the present climate in Swansea as it is, no-one wants the business as a going concern."
Mr Taylor, who is originally a Londoner who settled in Pembrokeshire before coming to Swansea, intends heading back west where his craft background will be put to good use.
He said: "We have a barn near Haverfordwest that we are going to turn into a home."
Giving his assessment on the fortunes of the city centre, the businessman said: "The city centre started going downhill when we lost the David Evans store.
"It was in a different class.
"Without appearing rude, we found the quality has just gone and people prefer to take the train to Cardiff.
"The town has become disconnected.
"People come in and say, 'We have lost so many nice shops and now you are going'.
"All this town needs is a couple of pound shops and a Primark, and you can turn the rest into housing.
"A friend of ours came back from Australia after many years away, and when he came out of the station he couldn't believe it, he felt like getting back on the train."
Mr Taylor said that he would miss the customers who had entered into the Sheep Shop fold.
He also believes that the closure will leave a gap in the market.
He said: "People are going to miss us. We have a bit of everything, we did the crafts like no-one else.
"It's just a nice environment and we serve our customers properly."
Sheep Shop assistant Julie Griffiths added: "We would just like to thank our customers for all their support over the years, they have been really fantastic, we have met so many nice people."
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