AN ANTIQUES dealer whose business became a Boscombe landmark is shutting up shop after 44 years.

For 33 of its years on Christchurch Road, Sandy’s Antiques was notable as the shop with the stuffed bear in the window.

The bear disappeared several years ago but owners Mike and Michelle Sandy continued trading, even though changing fashions took their toll on the antiques trade.

They now send a lot of Victorian furniture to an auction house in Texas but will dispatch their last container on April 14 and close the shop by the end of the month.

Mike Sandy said Boscombe had a busy antiques trade when he opened the shop in 1970.

“It was thriving down here. People used to come down from London and think it was like a mini Portobello Road in the 1970s,” he said.

“The shops slowly closed and now I’m one of the last left standing.”

Local people used to give directions by mentioning the shop with the bear in the window but objections from animal rights supporters prompted Mike to sell the stuffed animal to a dealer seven years ago. It is now back in the Black Forest region from which it came.

“It was hunted back in the Victorian days but that was all the fashion in those days. Of course you wouldn’t go and do it now,” he said.

Mike and Michelle regularly send Victorian furniture to Texas.

“We’ve been shipping in 40ft containers to America for the last 30 years. There’s a big demand out there and no demand in England,” said Mike.

He said Japan was also a bigger market for antique furniture than the UK.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s all going abroad. It’s never going to come back,” he added.

Mike said the slump in demand was one reason for closing the shop, along with the fact that he had reached retirement age.

“We’ve had hundreds of people walking in saying they can’t believe we’re closing and they’re really sad,” he said.

“I’m just going to retire and will probably dabble in antiques in a small way but without the shop.”

Mike and Michelle owe their marriage to the business, since they met at an auction 20 years ago.