Hidden Treasures in Ramsgate shuts down after just five months

Hidden Treasures site Photo Dave Stillman

An indoor market based in Ramsgate’s former JC Rook & Son’s shop in King Street has shut after just five months.

Hidden Treasures, which had stalls with everything from antiques to fudge and cakes and a vinyl record stall officially opened on May 1 but boss Dave Humphries says ill health has forced him to close the venue down.

Dad-of-three Dave, from Broadstairs, had teamed up with businessman  Behrooz Abdolvand, who bought the former butcher and pie shop, with hopes of being a base for numerous small traders.

But the doors were closed this month and stallholders have been collecting their items. There has been upset at a lack of notification to stallholders about the closure.

Dave has thanked all the stallholders and customers for their support during the time the venue was open.

The Ramsgate site has no connection with Minnis Bay Hidden Treasures which is an entirely separate venture that is trading as usual.

The former JC Rook & Sons site

J C Rook & Sons shops closed in March last year after the firm went into administration.

The firm had been trading in Kent for well over half a century but owed some £2million when it shut, with some 137 people losing their jobs.

The Hidden Treasures closures mean another empty large unit in the town on the heels of the Wilko closure this month.

WHSmith in Ramsgate (Image PrimeLocation)

The WHSmith store in Ramsgate High Street will also shut at the start of 2024.

The retailer, which has some 600 High Street stores and another 800 travel stores, says it has been “unable to trade viably” in the town.

Staff will be redeployed to other stores “where possible.”

The shop is being marketed through Miles & Barr Commercial and will be available for a new tenant to move in from February 2024.

Ramsgate is already suffering from unused shops in the town where large retailers, such as New Look and Argos, have exited large and prominent properties.

In recent years the exodus has also included Sports Direct/USC, destined for smaller retail and flats, Paynes grocers and HSBC bank, which Sugar Rush hopes to move to due to planned development at its current site.

Empty shops blighting the High Street – and a development plan suggestion for dealing with them

45 Comments

  1. Does not surprise me, a bit too niche for Ramsgate town, We have Petticoat Lane already if you like that sort of thing (yes I do). Everytime I went past no one in there.

  2. What a surprise. I expect the overheads were to expensive. Right then R.T.C and T.D.C.
    What the hell are you going to do to stop Ramsgate becoming a ghost town. Remember people vote for your policies, and if you lie, you WILL be found out. Just remember. The people rule, not just some jumped up so called politician who is only in it for their expenses.

  3. It’s not their fault. Ramsgate Town Centre is a pit. It’s horrible now. I can’t believe anyone would go there, park up in the awful urine stinking multi storey car park and do their shopping.

    • You are a great example of what’s wrong in Thanet. A constantly negative voice hiding behind anonymity and undermining everything good the new councils at RTC and TDC are trying to do.
      Why not stop whining and do something to help: maybe by standing for the council (if you think anyone would vote for you!)…

    • Ramsgate Town centre is not “a pit”. I have never been in the multi-storey carpark so i don’t know what it’s like inside.

  4. This is the state of business in this country under the rudderless clueless joke of a Conservative government. Can’t wait for the general election.
    Tories, out, out, out.

  5. Ramsgate town needs a radical plan; no plan was considered when Westwood X planning was initiated. Reinstate the bus route through town from King Street to Queen Street. Allow I hour free parking . Abolish business rates for 5 years . Remove obstacles ; Harbour Street Gate can go to Lings Metal Reclaimers ; employ toilet attendants; and more roadsweepers. Only a plan of this magnitude can rescue our once fantastic town . But it would take a brave Ramsgate Town Council to have the gumption to implement such a plan. It would be a wise move instead of wasting ££££££s on objecting to Manston Airport 🤔🤔🤔

    • The Harbour St Gate was installed because drivers refused to conform to the pedestrian zone regulations. The gate isn’t an obstacle to pedestrians, it just keeps vehicles from where they shouldn’t be.
      I don’t see the point in driving buses right through the middle of the town. There are bus stops in King St (outside Toni’s), on the sea front, in Leopold St and Queen St just down the road from Waitrose.

    • Bus route through town centre (1) – responsibility of Stagecoach who will only set up a new route if it will be profitable – since they’ve closed more than they’ve started up in recent years that seems unlikely – RTC cannot make Stagecoach run unprofitable businesses
      Bus route through town centre (2) – will need to be approved by KCC as the town centre is pedestrianised and only KCC can overturn that – possible but unlikely I would think – also increases risks to pedestrians – RTC could, at best, be a consultant to this idea
      Toilets are the responsibility of TDC and so the toilet attendants will need to be employed by TDC – not sure how much influence RTC could have on that but worth campaigning for
      TDC have employed more road sweepers across the whole of Thanet since Labour took over in May – not enough, but it’s a start – RTC technicians already do a lot of work trying to keep public spaces looking good but we pay council tax to TDC for this
      One hour free parking – not free – parking is covered by TDC – RTC used to pay TDC for free parking in the town on a Saturday but it got too expensive when it went up to £15k per year
      Harbour St Gate was installed to stop drivers driving through a pedestrianised section of the town during trading hours – dangerous for pedestrians not expecting cars to be coming at them during pedestrian only hours
      Abolish business rates for 5 years – business rates are set by central government and would have to approve any changes to business rates (which isn’t going to happen) – it would also mean a massive loss of income for TDC which would have to be found from somewhere else, such as cutting services (less bin collections maybe, or getting rid of street sweepers, or closing public toilets, or not housing the homeless) or put the cost on to council tax (which can only be done if the public agree through a referendum – not likely)

      Actually, all good thoughts, and not the first time most have been suggested – BUT (a) most are NOT the responsibility of Ramsgate Town Council, so blaming RTC for not having the gumption is misdirected, and (b) most have some potentially serious cost implications that will need to be paid for in other ways

      Shop local instead of going to WWX or shopping online – we have a butchers and a greengrocers and four supermarkets as well as plenty of other stores that sell dry goods (food) and household cleaning goods / toiletries and more, and pet foods, and health foods, and we have chemists, and plenty of cafes for a break before going home again – although I admit we’ve got little in the way of clothing shops, and no dedicated shoe stores left

      Did you know WWX was set up as an alternative ‘town centre’ because the big stores said it wasn’t worth keeping their larger stores in the separate town centres and wanted a single location so they could have biggers stores with more choice – we the public want more choice, this is the price. Broadstairs has survived the opening of WWX because it was never dependent on the bigger High Street stores in the first place.

      • ‘TDC have employed more road sweepers across the whole of Thanet since Labour took over in May’

        Can you confirm if these road sweepers are permanent staff or agency?

  6. It would help if people actually read the article to see the reason why the business closed rather than coming up with all sorts of inaccurate speculation.

    • Good point, David.
      The problem with Ramsgate town centre (as with many, many other town centres) is the construction of out-of-town shopping malls, such as WWX.
      The provision of large “free” carparks (they’re not free at all! Someone pays the rates, the upkeep and maintenance – guess who?) coupled with a variety of large stores is a lure away from town centres.

    • Yes, good point David.
      I’m sure a lot of comments are made after only the headline has been read on many articles on this site.
      You only have to read two paragraphs to find the real reason for it’s closure & it’s nothing to do with free car parks elsewhere.

  7. another failure down the crapper that is ramsgate , did anyone expect this to thrive ?. thanet is junk central when it comes to charity shops and similar

    • contact Roger de Haan and the Goddens and see if they will buy up Ramsgate like they did Folkestone – some people in Folkestone have nothing but praise for de Haan and the Goddens, others are less enthusiastic

  8. I love Ramsgate as a location but it does not feel safe at night, the open use of drink and drugs starts early in the morning and goes on throughout the day into the night. Not enough police around to make people feel safe either and I will not walk my grandchild through the town as she should not be exposed to such things which is a shame as there are some lovely shops here.

  9. Where is the levelling up fund support for these businesses? Where has all the high street money gone? Nothing is happening questions need to be asked to where the levelling up Ramsgate high st monies are?

  10. Strange how times change-can remember the scratchcards being put in the magazines for us kids to phone premium numbers. Lottery is an idiot tax for all, so why not let them lose their pocket money?

  11. A GHOST TOWN -NOW-WELL THANET COUNCIL-U GAVE THE GO-AHEAD FOR WESTWOOD CROSS-AGROS BLOCKBUSTERS ROOKS HSBC WH SMITH LITTLEWOODS SHOE ZONE EVERYTHING GONE UTTER SHAME ON THIS COUNCIL FROM BOTH RUN BY LABOUR AND CONSERVATIVES.

    • Blockbusters have gone everywhere. It’s not TDC’s fault that people prefer streaming movies online to hiring VHS tapes and DVDs.

    • the big shops wanted WWX so they could have bigger stores with more choice rather than the smaller stores in the town centres with less choice – that’s why we got WWX – WWX was meant to bring shoppers back to Thanet instead of them going to Bluewater etc where there was bigger stores with more choice

    • Build flats above shops. That would create much needed accommodation, and also local customers. The area could come alive again if such a arrangement was well thought out.

  12. Dear Helen. Thank you for your honest and genuine response to my saga . We do need something to attract businesses and people to Ramsgate town area very soon or it will be to late to save it as a town. As every time a shop or bank closes another quickly follows. The biggest trade killers are business rates and expensive parking

    • ….. and high rents. All the shops in the town centre are privately owned properties and it’s up to the owners to set the rental income they want. In some cases, due to gvt regulations, its actually more financially viable for the owners to leave their properties empty. Which is not helping our High Street. In a twist if irony, empty shops also reduces the business rate income for TDC. Parking is only ‘free’ at WWX because its effectively levied against the businesses that trade there.

      • Dear Helen , I appreciate your concerns but , surely there is no benefit to shop owners having an empty shop due to the fact they will still be lumbered with full business rates ; unless they fall below the free business rate of about £12k . The likes of New Look and once prime spots in town like Rooks & Paynes etc will still have to pay them. But it will take a brave person or company to take the risk

        • not sure how it works but I understand there are gvt loopholes that offset the cost of an empty property in some way

          surely if a shop is empty there’s no business in there to pay business rates (happy to stand corrected) – the Pilgrim’s Hospice shop is going to have to go when that development starts – they could be a possibility for moving further down the High Street (if it doesn’t get too expensive)

          • Dear Helen. I am 100% certain that business rates ; the same as Council tax on empty homes is payable without any reductions ; has to be paid in full unless it is below the free business rates afforded to a small property with a rateable value of £12k or maybe £14 now . Thus New Look in the High Street and the old Paynes Greengrocers would have to pay them in full. There is definitely no pleasure in owning an empty shop as no income and it will deteriorate fast ☹️ I am impressed by your concerns and feel you do have like myself the towns best interests at heart. It does need a radicle plan before it is a very real ghost town. When MacDonalds & Sports Direct & HSBC plus many more shut up it does tell its own sorry story ☹️☹️☹️

  13. Like I said, I only heard that there is some loophole that takes off the pressure of shop owners to get their property rented out and back in use – but beyond that I really can’t say any more and you obviously have a lot more experience around business rates than I do. Like you, I don’t understand why anyone would want to leave a property empty as any property will deteriorate over time. What I do know is that many of the empty properties are owned by individuals or companies who are not local to Thanet.

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