As the doors of Photos 2 Print on Bridge Street prepare to close on December 24th, Mark and Lesley Ann Simmonds take a moment to reflect on the journey of the past 21 years. The couple, who have been the heart and soul of the local business, are set to embark on a new chapter of their lives—retirement in the sunny landscapes of Spain.
Memorable Moments: Looking back, the couple fondly recalls the journey that began 21 years ago with the opening of Photos 2 Print. “Memorable moments include the shop flooding last year, a challenging incident that tested our resilience,” says Mark. On a positive note, Lesley Ann adds, “The redesign of the shop stands out, receiving numerous compliments on its inviting atmosphere and the friendliness of the staff.”
Reasons for Closure: The decision to close Photos 2 Print stems from a combination of factors. “Since COVID, the retail turnover has decreased significantly,” Mark explains. “If the shop was run by just a husband-and-wife team, it would be very successful. But the cost of employing staff, holidays, minimum wage, and electricity has impacted on costs and profit.” Lesley Ann chimes in, “Footfall in Andover has decreased by at least half since we opened 21 years ago. Shopping online, especially since COVID, has had a dramatic impact—we just cannot compete with online with all the running costs of keeping a shop open. Additionally, the end of a 10-year lease aligns with our decision to semi-retire to Spain.”
Retirement Plans: Mark and Lesley Ann’s retirement plans include a move to Pinoso, Spain, where they have been renovating an old building. “We now have a successful (summer only) business where we offer luxury Bed and Breakfast, a self-catering apartment for 4 people,” says Mark. Lesley Ann adds, “I re-trained and am a patisserie chef, so we are opening a small English Tea Room in the bottom of our garden. In January 2024, we will be featured on ‘A NEW LIFE IN THE SUN’—they have been filming us for the past 3 years as we have been planning towards our semi-retirement. The business is called CASAGRANDEPINOSO.”
Favourite Memories: Reflecting on their favourite memories from running Photos 2 Print, the couple mentions the joy of opening the shop 21 years ago. “OMG, 21 years ago! It feels like just yesterday,” Mark laughs. However, not all memories were without challenges. “Filling ink cartridges proved to be a messy endeavour, inks going everywhere!” Lesley Ann recalls. The recognition they received, winning retail awards via Fujifilm, also stands out.
Impact on the Community: Photos 2 Print leaves a lasting legacy in the community, having been a successful business that contributed to preserving precious memories for its customers. “It’s been a successful business and has served the community well—printing memories that last a lifetime for people,” Mark reflects.
Challenges and Rewards: Owning a local business posed significant challenges, particularly in the face of technological changes and the impact of the internet on traditional retail. “Retail has been the most challenging— the internet has had a major impact on the high street and locally owned businesses,” Mark explains. “Seeing the demise of the market on Thursdays and Saturdays has also impacted sales.”
Technological Changes: Over the years, technological advancements such as iCloud, digital printing, and smartphones have transformed the photography and printing industry. “The younger generation doesn’t seem to print many photos,” observes Lesley Ann. “Government policies on passports have also changed. Before, you had to go into a photo shop for a photo-approved passport. Now, so many try at home! This has led to a massive decline in passport photo printing sales.”
Customer Relationships: Customers played a crucial role in the success of Photos 2 Print, with heart-warming stories of support and loyalty. “Our customers have been fantastic and incredibly supportive,” Mark expresses. Lesley Ann shares, “The best story is when a lady came into the shop to print out her photos—1,000 in total, as she didn’t want her children to grow up without these printed memories.”
Everything Must Go Sale: In light of the closure, Photos 2 Print announces an “Everything Must Go” sale, with savings of up to 70%. “Get in quick to take advantage of these significant savings,” Mark urges. “It’s our way of saying thank you to our loyal customers over the years.”
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Offering advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, Mark and Lesley Ann jokingly caution against starting a local business. “Don’t! Be prepared to work 24/7!” they laugh together.
Legacy of Photos 2 Print: The couple hopes the legacy of Photos 2 Print will live on through their dedicated staff, Antony and Emily, who have been instrumental in the success of the business and will continue to contribute to the community.
Personal Reflections: On a personal level, Mark and Lesley Ann express relief at closing this chapter, acknowledging the challenges of running a business 24/7.
Gratitude and Thanks: As the couple bids farewell to Photos 2 Print, they extend heartfelt gratitude to their loyal customers. “A very big thank you! And a massive thank you to Antony and Emily—without them, we would have closed our shop several years ago!” Mark and Lesley Ann express their deep appreciation for the support that has sustained them throughout this incredible journey.