A FAMILY-RUN hobbies store is preparing to close its doors for the final time after 40 years in business.

Papersmiths started selling arts and crafts equipment, in Queens Parade, in 1972, before moving to its current premises, in Winchester Street, Basingstoke, in 1976.

Maree Smith, of The Harrow Way, Hatch Warren, Basingstoke, runs the independent shop with her daughter Steph Kudirka and two part-time staff.

She said that the lease for the shop runs out on Christmas Eve, and the store will close then or before if it sells all its stock.

Mrs Smith said: “I am past retirement age. I have had 40 happy years, I have met some lovely people and I shall miss them. But it’s time to make a new life now.”

The shop’s success has brought it industry-wide recognition, featuring in a 1978 edition of the trade magazine Craft and Hobby Dealer. Its merchandise includes cross-stitch sets, quality paper and pens and paintbrushes.

Since Mrs Smith put up ‘Closing Down’ signs in her shop window on Monday, she has been inundated with comments from customers, one of whom gave her a plant to thank her for her service.

She said: “Every customer who has walked through that door has said how sorry they are, and that we cannot go. It is out of my hands and I am looking forward to retiring, but I do feel quite guilty.”

Not every member of the family will leave the building – Mrs Smith’s husband Barrie, a chartered accountant, has renegotiated part of the lease to keep his upstairs office open.