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Ipswich not-for-profit venture victim of tough retail market

LAST TIME: The Gift Tree at North Ipswich closing down. Ruth O'Dowd opened the store six years ago.
LAST TIME: The Gift Tree at North Ipswich closing down. Ruth O'Dowd opened the store six years ago. Rob Williams

BEHIND the handmade crafts, unique art and personalised gifts, the Gift Tree at Brassall had more to its legacy than as a retail venture.

Ruth O'Dowd established the not-for-profit co-operative store in 2011 as a place for local artists and designers to share their journey with like-minded people.

After moving the shop to Pine Mountain Rd a year ago in a bid to increase foot traffic and keep the shop open, Ms O'Dowd will serve the last customer on August 12.

She said a tough retail market made it difficult for the shop to continue.

"I found there was a huge downturn in retail and people visiting and unfortunately as much as I wanted to keep it open it just was not possible in the circumstances. It was no longer viable," she said.

"It's very very sad because the concept of the Gift Tree was that it's a not-for-profit co-op set up for people to be able to rent out a space in the shop and display their wares.

"It was not just my shop, it was a collaborative of small businesses together running and manning the shop."

She said the supportive ethos of the venture was something she would hang onto.

"I can walk away knowing that I have helped a lot of people, I wish there could be more but we have done out little bit for Ipswich in the way that we could," she said.

"It was a beautiful journey and I will never regret doing it."

The Gift Tree is located at Pine Mountain Road Shopping Centre, Shop 12, 90-98 Pine Mountain Rd, Brassall.

Topics:  gift tree ipswich ipswich business