Game Changer – Snacks and Ladders Go Home as Newport Art Shop Hangs Up Brushes

As one community business prepares to close its doors, another has revealed an exciting plan to take over the site.

Forget Me Not, based on Upper St James Street, has been a fixture in the Isle of Wight arts community for 37 years, having first opened in 1985.

In its place, visitors to Newport will soon be greeted by a revamped version of the popular Snacks and Ladders Cafe, currently based three doors down.

Cafe owners Karen and Chris Longhurst exclusively shared their ambitious plans for the biggest location with Isle of Wight Radio, saying:

“We hope to open our doors in the new premises by mid-October.

“We do this on a budget, so if people can offer to help us, we’ll be happy to provide payment in kind – if they can offer to help paint the walls, when we reopen we’ll feed them!

“The community helped us survive – during the first lockdown we had a Crowdfunder to keep us going, so we want to give something back.”

Forget Me Not currently has a half-price closing sale in place

The current Forget Me Not site will be an area approximately three and a half times larger than the current Snacks and Ladders site, which Karen says will allow them to offer a range of new services:

“We are integrating our bakery into the new store, along with teacher play sessions, specific social nights, Dungeon and Dragon nights and the revival of our toddler sessions.

“We also plan to hold art classes as a nod to the building’s history.

“One of the most important things about the new building is that it’s fully accessible to everyone, with things like a ramp and plenty of room to move around.”

The plans look extremely impressive, with the aim of providing a new center for the city.

The premises at 69-70 Upper St James Street (above) will provide Karen and Chris with additional space for new activities

Part of the proposal includes hiring additional staff, a move Karen and Chris hope will thwart a post-pandemic downsizing trend.

The move is subject to a final exchange of contracts, but with both parties keen to complete the deal, it is expected to be signed off without a hitch in the eleventh hour.

“We loved serving you”

Purchased by Clara and Alex Kureen in 2005, Forget Me Not has been run as a family business for almost two decades.

But the detrimental effect of the pandemic, combined with an increase in cheap online materials and national wholesale chains, has taken its toll on the once-thriving store, with the latter of l island to close up shop.

Clara told Isle of Wight radio:

“I have loved running my own art shop for 17 years.

“The rich artistic community of the Island supported us during this period.

“Although part of me is sad to leave, I know Karen will be an amazing goalkeeper here – I can’t wait to see what she does!

“Thank you to everyone who has passed through our doors since we took over in 2005.”

Forget Me Not is holding a half-price sale for the rest of August, with stocks selling off quickly.

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