The end of an era beckons in Granard as Pettits on Main Street in the town is to close after 310 years trading in the same family.
The end of an era beckons in Granard later this month with the closure of arguably the oldest business in the county.
Pettit's has been a feature on the town's Main Street since 1708 and it is an extraordinary feat for a business to have remained in the same family for 310 plus years.
Proprietor, John Joe Pettit, has been there for fifty years and in recent years has been ably assisted by Marie Beatty, a familiar and popular staff member in the shop for more than twenty years.
Paying tribute to John Joe Pettit and wishing him well in the next chapter of his life, Cllr Joe Flaherty said: “It is indicative of the pressures on small business and especially retail in our towns and villages. Research from RGDATA shows that small retailers are unfairly carrying the burden of the cost of Rates by as much as 60% of the overall cost.”
The Fianna Fáil General Election candidate added: “I have been arguing that the Council in conjunction with local trader groups and Chambers, needs to establish a dedicated task force with the express aim of making it easier to do business in our main towns - Longford, Granard, Ballymahon, Edgeworthstown and Lanesboro. In time the process then spreads to the villages.”
Cllr Flaherty believes that recently launched Town Teams can be the perfect vehicle for this project, which urgently needs to look at rates, street scapes and a suite of supports that will enable new and existing businesses to seek out the expertise and mentoring that will help them through the difficult times.
He added: “It is extremely tough for retail in rural Ireland at the moment and the undeniable shift towards online shopping won't make it easier.
“Every shop, every business we lose is another nail in the local community.
“Yes we've had some good news in Longford town over recent weeks but the pluses are still outweighed by the minuses.
“The demise of the commercial hearts of our towns and villages is now as big an issue as jobs, crime and broadband.
“When the snow finally clears, we'll see that we are losing another historic business premises. Another shop that was full of memories for generations of Granard people.
“And the reality is that it is impossible to replace a business of the character and tradition such as Pettits.”