A WELL-KNOWN food shop is to close after 17 years in business on Musselburgh High Street.

Neil and Nicci Wilson, of Wilson’s Fresh Farm Produce, have decided to call it a day, saying price increases, rates and general costs have “caught up on the shop”.

But their North Berwick outlet will continue to trade as normal, along with current deliveries.

The couple are also considering future ventures such as a mobile van and online ordering, for delivery, from the North Berwick shop.

Announcing the shop’s closure, Mr Wilson said: “The last few years have meant that we as a family have had to make too many sacrifices to keep the business going and now is the time to make changes.

“We would like to thank all of our customers from the bottom of our hearts for supporting us – we have loved your chat, friendship and support.

“We are working hard to try to look at options to give our customers every opportunity to continue to buy our locally sourced produce and organic foods after we close.

“Currently the possibilities are a mobile van and online ordering (for delivery) from our shop in North Berwick. We understand these options may not work for everyone, though.

“We have been fortunate over the years to have employed many great folk and I would like to thank them all for their efforts.”

East Lothian Courier: Neil Wilson and his wife Nicci are closing their shop in High Street, Musselburgh, after 17 years of serving the local community

Neil Wilson and his wife Nicci are closing their shop in High Street, Musselburgh, after 17 years of serving the local community

They have no firm closure date yet but appealed to customers to “continue to support” them.

In addition to deliveries and a mobile van, pop-up outlets are being considered in the future.

Mr Wilson is a community stalwart and was brought up in the Honest Toun – he was Town Champion at the 2016 Riding of the Marches and is a former Honest Lad and a past president of the Rotary Club of Musselburgh.

He highlighted the change in shopping habits, with more people shopping online and in supermarkets, as well as a lack of parking and “economic downturn” for a decrease in footfall on High Street.

Mr Wilson told the Courier: “The Musselburgh shop has been struggling a bit for the last five years but we kept it going out of conscious rather than a good business head.

“We saw an upturn during Covid because people didn’t want to queue at supermarkets for hours and they turned to us.

“We thought that this was the start of things changing and people using the High Street more but, as things returned to normal, as have people’s shopping habits.”

'You hardly see a soul'

He added: “Only a fraction of Musselburgh uses Musselburgh.

“Musselburgh has a population of 20,000 people and if everyone spent a fraction of their earnings a week on High Street, it would no doubt make a difference to it.”

He said that there had been a “marked decrease” in footfall on High Street in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and raised concern about the lack of parking, adding: “Customers’ comments and complaints about parking issues increased.”

He said: “During the summer, the shops are busy, but in the winter months people stay away.

“You look up High Street and hardly see a soul.”

Mr Wilson added: “Brexit has not helped, with prices of stuff coming from Europe more expensive, but every shop is affected by that.”

Well-wishers took to social media to express their sadness about the closure of the outlet and to wish the couple well for the future.

Ferhan Ashiq, who runs Levenhall Village Store in Musselburgh, said on Facebook: “I’m really sad to be hearing fellow retailers suffer for things that are just outside their control, [it] upsets me a great deal. Covid and Brexit directly impacted retailers and many are running on fumes.

“I fully understand why you have made this decision as I recently did the same [he closed his Day-Today store in Prestonpans earlier this year]. Wish you all the best in your new ventures.”