Old Town shop given a lifeline after crowdfunding appeal

Michelle Smith of Off The Wall antiques
Michelle Smith of Off The Wall antiques

A distinctive antiques shop in the heart of Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town has been given a lifeline after its owner was threatened with eviction.

Michelle Smith, who runs Off The Wall Antiques in the recently renovated High Street, has been plagued by years of debts which she says were partly exacerbated by the over-running roadworks.

A large portion of her arrears were called in by Dacorum Borough Council with just over a week to raise the near £5,000 sum, so Michelle decided to call on loyal customers to reach the shop-saving target before the tight deadline.

She set up a crowdfunding site for people to donate money in exchange for store vouchers if they wished to see the quirky shop – famed for its eclectic displays of wicker baskets – remain open.

More than 63 people made pledges, and the total was reached thanks to another donation from a family member whom Michelle will have to pay back.

Bailiffs booked to reclaim the property yesterday were cancelled and, while Michelle continues to repay her debt, the iconic store can continue to operate.

Michelle said: “I am really, really pleased.

“It’s a real community up here in the Old Town – it’s still going to be an ongoing struggle to get footfall but when the markets are held here the shop is rammed.

“I am so grateful to those who made pledges. Because of their support the shop can stay open, and I look forward to welcoming them in to come and spend their vouchers.”

Michelle said she will be emailing donors with their vouchers in the coming days.

She also vowed to use the shop’s lifeline to modernise her business by setting up a website for online sales.

The store already has a social media page with more than 700 ‘likes’ – for more, search OFF THE WALL ANTIQUES on Facebook.