Closing the toy store will be like ‘ripping the heart out of Purley’ after more than 40 years on the high street

A family business that has graced Purley’s high street for over 40 years will soon close for the final time.

Lorimers on Brighton Road has been providing the community with all the stationery, art materials, greeting cards and toys they could want for decades and many residents have been deeply saddened by the news of its closure.

Although the Purley store is just one of 12 Lorimers branches across Surrey and Kent, the closure has shown how the country’s high streets are struggling against a range of factors including competition from online shopping .

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“Sadly it is a sign of the times and an example of the ever-changing face of the High Street, not just in Purley but nationally,” said Simon Cripps, CEO of Purley Business Improvement District (BID).

“The impact of the internet and online sales has caused the high street to gradually shift from transactional sales (which can now be done online) to a more ‘experience-based’ shopping model. “

While the storefront was modernized at the Sevenoaks store, it still lives on the same site today

Mr Cripps added: “It’s such a shame that Purley is losing Lorimers, which has been such a central part of the city for decades.

“I certainly remember buying toys there when I was a young boy a few years ago, it will be greatly missed.”

Purley Lorimers will close on January 15 after a final decision was made last week.

Purley residents were surprised by the news and shared their memories of the famous store on social media.

“Truly terrible news for our main street,” one wrote.

Another said: “Nooo! It’s been there for years. Like ripping out Purley’s heart.”

A second person added: ‘Nooo such sad news that such lovely ladies running the place will definitely come over and say goodbye to me before they leave and buy a few things.’

A third person commented: “Another nail in the coffin for Purley. How sad.”

While a fourth person added: “We moved to Purley in 1977 and it was there for sure!! Sad to see him go….”

Speculation has already started on what the store will become, with many predicting that a new cafe, hairdressers or charity shop will take over.

However, Mr Cripps warns that without change Lorimers will not be the last much-loved store to leave the high street.

He said: “We are seeing an increase in cafes, restaurants and beauticians, but a decline in stores such as Lorimers where most products can easily be purchased online.

“The pandemic has dramatically accelerated this national change in the High Street, and Lorrimers will not be the last victim.

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“The Lorimers will be sorely missed at Purley, but as with everything, that’s market demand, and demand for their types of product is now moving online.”

He added that the key for businesses is to provide an “extra experience” for customers.

He said: “Businesses and the high street need to move with the times and provide an additional form of experience, more than just traditional transactional selling.

‘We are seeing this with new cafes in Purley, such as O’Farol and El Shams, and understand that with the increase in new residential units around Purley, several more cafes and bars will soon be opening.’

Customers will still be able to support Lorimers through their sister company or at the Coulsdon store.

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