Another day, another business closure in Croydon. And, not for the first time, it has proved to be the intransigence of bureaucrats at Croydon Council which has played a large part in the closure.
Priscilla’s Tea Room, tucked into a niche little building in Sanderstead Rec, cashed up its tills and pulled down the shutters for a final time on Sunday, unable to continue to trade into the harsh business headwinds that have been blowing against many smaller traders since 2020.
Since it opened in the summer of 2014, Priscilla’s, with its quaint and vintage feel, had embedded itself into the village-like Sanderstead community, placing itself at the heart of local charity fund-raising and any events staged on the Rec. The converted bus stop café on Limpsfield Road regularly attracted top ratings on online review sites.
But in an emotional message posted on social media, one of the owners outlined how the business could no longer continue in an unequal struggle.
“I have run out of time and money to make a deal with the banks, council and debts,” they wrote.
The owner admitted that the business had been under threat of closure since covid. “The decision has now been taken out of my hands,” they said.
“For the last two years I have been paying staff and not bills, as there hasn’t been enough income. This is no longer sustainable.” And they admitted that Priscilla’s “can no longer compete” with four other coffee shops on Sanderstead high street.
Even the usually money-spinning Sanderstead Community Day (“that used to give the business some winter savings”) worked against Priscilla’s this year, the business making a loss after a coffee van parked up and cannibalised what business was to be had. They called it “the nail in the coffin”.
But the heartfelt message made it quite clear how dire the circumstances had become for the owners. “I am desperate… Staff have not been fully paid from last month yet… I am gutted to be in this situation.”
The owners operate a sister shop, and will be continuing to trade from the Cornerhouse in Hamsey Green.
Sunday’s final day of trading at Priscilla’s saw the owners selling off all their fixtures and fittings, and even offering to give away tables and chairs that are now surplus to requirements.
And is so often the case with traders struggling to operate in a viable manner in Croydon, somewhere along the line the local council was involved in the problems.
The building where Priscilla’s operated was owned by the cash-strapped council.
“The building was placed up for sale by the council and my lease was up for renewal,” the owners wrote.
“I have worked endlessly over the last few months to find a solution but it is not possible. I needed to reduce the rent debt to the council in order to renew the lease, but I couldn’t find enough.
“I had an amazing customer who was ready to buy the building, but the council wouldn’t give us a price and wanted us to bid against the public. I feel it is unfair I have to bid against the public for my own building after 10 years of community work and investment into transforming the building and public toilet and turning it into something special.
“The situation has become impossible to fix and there are no more solutions so sadly we must close.”
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