Dorset china shop will close this month

An independent Dorset china and giftware shop will shut its doors for the last time later this month.
The closure of The China Shop in Gillingham’s high street has been forced partly by the imminent retirement of owners Michael and Carolyn Tonkin but also by increasingly slow trade.

“We’re probably retiring a couple of years earlier than we could,” Michael Tonkin told “Over the last 25 years business has got quieter and quieter, particularly in our part of the world. Fortunately, we own this property and my wife and I run the business, which is partly why we’ve been able to survive as long as we have.”

He said that at one time the shop dealt with all the major china companies.

“But we’ve changed over the years and gone away from tableware towards more giftware,” he explained. Latterly, the shop’s tableware offer had concentrated mainly on the Royal Doulton and Wedgwood brands.

“The industry has changed considerably in the 25 years we’ve been in it,” Tonkin went on. “There’s been a change of lifestyle. People don’t sit down around a table and have meals, and I don’t think that on the whole the young generation have a 25-piece dinner service.

“Also, the business going out of Stoke and across the world; when we started – apart from some crystal – everything we stocked was made in this country.”

The China Shop is set to close at the end of July, and the property has now been sold. Tonkin said that he had hoped it would continue as a china shop “but there was no interest at all – no one even looked at it”.

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