A POPULAR community shop in Basingstoke that celebrated its 40th anniversary last month has been voted as the Basingstoke Gazette and Andover Advertiser Retailer of the Year.

Squirrels Antiques in Joices Yard on New Street has been open for 40 years and has become hugely popular with residents who visit the shop regularly to collect their antiques.

Alan Stone, 57, who runs the business, said he is “over the moon” to hear that Squirrels has been chosen as the retailer of the year.

“I am so happy that this small independent business has been identified as the retailer of the year,” he told the Gazette.

“I’m over the moon. It shows the people are still looking for small niche retails in town centres.”

The business was voted as the retailer of the year after receiving most nominations from our readers.

Squirrels was started by Ros Austen, Phil Woods, Albert Stone (Alan’s dad), and a young Alan in 1981. Alan said he entered the world of antiques when he was just eight.

The business specialises in antique silverware militaria, guns, knives, swords, and jewellery – gold and silver. They do free valuation work for most of the local solicitors for probate works and free identification works for customers.

Basingstoke Gazette: Alan Stone with Basingstoke and Deane Mayor Cllr Onnalee Cubbitt during the 40th birthday celebration of the storeAlan Stone with Basingstoke and Deane Mayor Cllr Onnalee Cubbitt during the 40th birthday celebration of the store

Alan said Squirrels also offers free opinions to customers about everything related to antiques and the collectible world.

“We also have a huge collection of Basingstoke memorabilia,” Alan said.

“It’s not here in the shop, but we keep it for groups like theatres, WI (Women’s Institutes) and museums. They borrow from us to show the Basingstoke history. We are also members of a number of groups like Basingstoke Historic Society”

Alan said he has his staff – Andrew Wilkinson, Amanda Beynon, Charlotte Bennett, Dorota Ciaston – and customers to thank for the award.

“For our 40th anniversary, we saw customers who have been coming since our start in 1981,” he added.

“We are now getting the grandchildren of our first customers.”