PEOPLE in Mallow were shocked this week following the news that Barry's Shoes on Davis St will shortly close its doors for the last time.
For the first time in more than 60 years the Barry name will no longer appear on a town centre shop front, yet another indication of the increasing pressure faced by local traders who are struggling to stay in business.
Phil Barry said that having to make the decision to close the shop, which was founded by her father in 1949, was not taken lightly.
"The decision making process was tough, but once the final decision was make it was a relief. Mum and Dad are no longer with us, so in that respect it has made things so much easier," she admitted.
"So many of my customers have become my friends. I have people who will just drop in here for a chat and may not even buy a pair of shoes. They just call in, and I will miss that."
The sense of shock among locals was summed by a young girl who called into the shop earlier this week with her mother. "She told me she was upset because she had bought her first pair of shoes here. That had become something of a tradition for people," said Phil.
She said the decision to close was taken due to a number of factors - the recession, the change in people's shopping habits and the issue of pay parking within the town being among them.
"People are increasingly buying online and we have an awful lot of people living in Mallow who are from the city. In their head 'town' means Cork City, not Mallow, so they don't shop here," said Phil.
"The traffic system combined with the fact that people are just not interested in paying for parking has also been a major problem, especially as most of our older customers come from outside the town and have a big problem with pay parking. We hear it everyday. They were in fear of getting a ticket," said Phil.
Phil said that while she believed there should be some kind of parking system in place, the decision by Mallow Town Council to change the regime in October 2011 did have a significant impact on trade.
"Over the past year, with the recession and everything else we are only trading at a quarter of what we had been doing before. People just don't have the money," said Phil.
"My bank has been good to me, but they have to be careful. Lending is not a good thing at the moment."
Phil said she would be understandably sad when the shop doors close for the final time, probably over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
"It will be the end of an era, but I am a positive person and hopefully there will be something more exciting down the line," she said.
Phil was less positive about the future of commerce in Mallow, fearing that other shop owners may also choose to call it a day.
"I was one of the traders who would give out mad about things, but at this stage I have given up the fight. It's a shame, but there is no point in banging your head against a brick wall," she said.