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CULTURE FOCUS (HIDDEN GEMS): Wisbech community hub in Etectera shop

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As we are creating a community hub within the Etcetera Shop and Studio, I interviewed Jan and Ray Wicks to ask them about its history.

Here’s their story of Etcetera: “We bought the building, 7 York Row, in 1980, from the family of Lilian Ream (social photographer).

“We spent a few months restoring it and making it into a shop, selling homewares, gradually extending the restoration work further into the building as the business grew.

“Eventually we developed the original photographic studio into a cane furniture showroom. In the late 1990s the new entrance in Post Office Lane was built and the studio area upgraded to accommodate offices and a stockroom upstairs.

Jan and Ray Wicks in Etcetera.
Jan and Ray Wicks in Etcetera.

“The area behind the studio was turned into ‘Cafe Studio’ in 2001. After a decline in sales of cane furniture that area was changed into the Post Office (owing to the closure of the Crown Post Office in 2014).

“Evolving from a homewares shop, Etcetera has continuously changed its profile, adding office services such as photo printing and photocopying, then the cafe and Post Office.

“It is now time to move on. After 40 years the time has come for us to retire from the shop.”

Wisbech Projects CIC is leading a steering group to work on the Community Hub.

The Post Office will remain, though in new hands. The cafe has also been taken over.

Both are, of course, assets to the community and will be assets to the community hub too. As are Ray and Jan! Their advice and support while moving the building into this new phase of its long history is, and will be, invaluable.

The Hub will:

  • share community information;
  • offer activities, classes and training – provided by local support organisations;
  • still be retail too, selling the traditional Etcetera favourites but also offering space to local people selling their art, crafts or hobby materials;
  • retain the Information Centre, which is growing into a Heritage Centre.

The Post Office and Snack Shack Cafe are separate businesses and we will work together to share space, information and skills.

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