York shop workers facing redundancy being ‘abused and harassed’ by customers
THE managers of one of York’s most famous shops have criticised customers for “unacceptable” behaviour towards staff, as it prepares to close.
Banks Musicroom in Lendal, said to be the oldest retailer in the country, is due to close on March 17, as reported by YorkMix last week.
There were long queues at the shop on Saturday for its closing down sale, but by Sunday management had to put new posters in the window, warning customers about their behaviour.
The posters urge people to be kind and considerate and stress that abuse and harassment will not be tolerated.
The wording suggests that some customers have been unreasonable about the discounts available, and the lack of the store’s previous delivery options.
The poster is headed ‘Unacceptable Customer Behaviour’, and says:
“Employees in this store have been given notice of redundancy. Despite this they have continued to do their best to support each other and you as customers during this incredibly difficult time.
“Staff are not in a position to offer further discounts, delivery or the services they would provide under normal circumstances.
“To ensure we put the wellbeing of our staff first, the store is limiting its hours and may be closed at short notice. We ask for your support and understanding.
“It is disappointing to have to remind customers in this situation that we will not tolerate any form of abuse or harassment towards our employees. Please be kind and considerate.”
Hal Leonard Group, which owns Musicroom, announced last week that it was closing six of its seven shops across the UK, keeping only the London branch. The company said it would increase its focus on online sales.
Tom Venvell, UK managing director, said the decision to close shops had been very difficult, but said sales and profits had been hit by “challenging market conditions” and costs were continuing to rise.
Banks has been at its current premises in Lendal since 1985, but has a history stretching back 267 years. York Explore Libraries & Archive says it is “thought to be the United Kingdom’s oldest retailer.”
It says the first shop was opened by Thomas Haxby in Blake Street, on 15 June 1756. He ran it as a shop and simultaneously developed a business making and repairing musical instruments.
Haxby sold it to Samuel Knapton in 1788, who in turn passed it to his son Philip, and the business diversified into music publishing.
In 1829, the business transferred to William Hardman, and when he died in 1855 it was taken on by his assistant Henry Banks, whose name has remained with the business ever since as it passed through several generations of the family. The company moved to 2 Stonegate, and then in 1904 it moved to the corner of Stonegate and Blake Street.
Signs on the shop window say the shop will be closed today (Sunday, 26 February) and is due to reopen on Tuesday (28 February).