Shutting up shop after 200 years

By Sara Girvin
BBC News NI north east reporter

Image caption,
The owners said the shop was 'no longer viable'

After more than 200 years in business, McAlister's supermarket in Cushendall has shut up shop for the last time.

The village store has been selling groceries in the county Antrim village since the 1800s, with the business being passed down through eight generations of the same family.

But its owners say competition from big supermarkets and the rise of online shopping means the business is simply no longer viable.

Andrew McAlister told the BBC more needs to be done to support small businesses in rural communities.

Image caption,
The shop closed up for the last time on Friday

"I'm not just closing the doors to a shop, I'm closing the doors to generations of people, generations of my family," he said.

"I'm hopeful that someone will come along and reinvigorate the premises, that it will find a new use.

"I just regret I'm the one who happens to be the generation where it's come to this stage.

'Very concerned'

"Closing that door will be one of the most difficult things I've done."

On Friday there were goodbyes from customers - many of whom have been shopping there for decades.

McAlister's is just the latest business to shut up in Cushendall.

Image caption,
The closures have started a conversation about Cushendall's future

The village has recently lost its bank and hotel.

The closures have started a conversation about Cushendall's future.

Mr McAlister said he's "very concerned" that rural communities could become "dormitories for urban areas".

"We need to look at how to regenerate and reinvigorate our villages," he said.

'Death knell'

"Unfortunately I'm now becoming a bit of a case study. My business pulling out means there's now one less facility for local people."

Michael Kearney is a fourth generation butcher in Cushendall and he also wants more support for small businesses in his village, and others like it.

"Obviously it's a beautiful area and there's loads to offer but if we haven't the services to provide, people will just sail on through," he said.

"Really it could be the death knell for the village, another business closing."

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