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Norwich toy shop set to close

PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 01 July 2010

Victor Keller of Kellers model shop in Cattle Market Street, Norwich

Victor Keller of Kellers model shop in Cattle Market Street, Norwich

Peter Walsh

A Norwich shop which has been selling toy cars and planes to youngsters in the city for more than 20 years is closing next month - although it will be replaced by another model store.

A Norwich shop which has been selling toy cars and planes to youngsters in the city for more than 20 years is closing next month - although it will be replaced by another model store.

Keller's Model Marque, on Cattle Market Street, has been the place to go for model-mad youngsters since 1988, but is set to close on Saturday, June 5.

The glass and iron fronted Victorian Crystal House building, which was originally used as a show room for steam engines, will then be renovated in preparation for the arrival of national model chain Model Zone into the store just a few days later.

All three staff who currently work at Kellers Model Marque will be retained by ModelZone, which has almost 30 shops nationwide, which will open on Thursday, June 10 and will sell models, radio controlled cars, trains and Scalextric sets among other things.

It will be the end of an era for the Keller family who have had a presence on Catle Market Street since 1947 when the shop was a tool store.

Victor Keller, managing director of the family-run business, said: “We've come to the end of the line in that way of doing retail.

There's been a huge change. Ever since Broadband arrived in the UK customers come in and say I can get this model for such and such on the internet, can you match it.

“It's very hard for a shop in the centre of Norwich with business rates to compete with guys on the internet in the middle of a field with no overheads.”

While he might be sad to be leaving the shop behind, Mr Keller said he is pleased that there will still be a model shop in the city.

He said: “That's the good news. Norwich needs something like that.”

But while the shop might be closing, the Keller name will continue to be synonymous with the world of modelling through its internet site which is expanding and is moving to a site on Europa Way, Norwich.

Mr Keller said the site, www.model-marque.com, which provides model cars with personalised number plates, had proved increasingly popular over the past six years - particularly with women.

He said the site, which is being run by his son Jonathan, took orders from all over the world and aimed to provide customers with the highest standards in customer care.

He said: “You can't be out of stock and have to provide a service level which is of the highest possible standard.”

The building has been bought by Richard Pratt, managing director of North Walsham-based Power Steering Systems (PSS) which produces steering and hydraulic products.

Are you opening a new business in a historic city building? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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