Exmouth fancy-dress shop to shut after 20 years - as owner says closure of Rolle College a decade ago 'killed us stone-dead'
PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:02 18 May 2018
An Exmouth shop is closing its doors after two decades of hiring out colourful costumes to the town's fancy-dress fanatics.
Carnival House, in Exeter Road, is getting ready to shut for good following a steady decline in business - which began when Rolle College closed in 2008.
Shop owner, Mo McWilliams, 72, says a ‘wash-out’ Halloween, on top of declining trade and her own desire to retire, were behind the decision to finally close.
She told the Journal: “When we had a [Rolle] college it was brilliant; the place was heaving. But someone decided to close the college and it killed us stone-dead.
“Before that there were students in here every day, spending just a few pounds, but there were hundreds of them.
“I remember the landlord said, ‘You will never last as a fancy-dress shop’, and I would say, ‘We’re still here!’. New Year and Halloween were really good.”
As well as Rolle College’s closure, Mo also blames a waning interest in fancy-dress in Exmouth. She has also lamented the trend of more people choosing to shop online.
“We used to be number three for fancy-dress in the whole country, for years,” said Mo.
“We used to hire out 500 costumes every New Year’s Eve, but, about three years ago, it changed. So, in the end, we decided to get rid of the costumes and sell them off.
“My daughter has worked for me for 18 years, helping in the shop and doing the windows, but I have had to let her go. Now I’m doing it all myself and I’m not even making enough money for me.”
Mo says that, although there is much she will miss about running the shop, she is also looking forward to the future and the freedom of retirement.
She added: “The people of Exmouth are so lovely, really friendly, and most of the kids are amazing as well. I am going to miss the shop terribly; getting up in the morning and having something to do. It has been great fun - my family used to go out every year and dress up.
“But I am looking forward to spending more time with my husband, who’s already retired - we go on bus-pass adventures!”
Carnival House is set to close at the end of June, or sooner, if all stock is sold before then.