CUSTOMERS have told of their disappointment at the closure of a popular charity shop.

Ardgowan Hospice has announced that its store at Gourock's Cardwell Bay will shut next week.

The charity - which has another outlet at Kempock Street in the town - says it doesn't make financial sense to keep two stores so close to each other.

Allison Black, 55, says she uses the shop and donates regularly and is saddened by the decision.

She said: "It's a smashing wee shop run by volunteers.

"It's always busy and not overpriced like some other hospice shops.

"I'm disappointed.

"I've enjoyed coming to this wee shop, the girls are always pleasant.

"You always get a bargain and you are helping the hospice."

Charity chiefs say the cost of running the shop outweighed any profit.

A spokesperson said: "The Cardwell Bay store is a small leasehold unit.

"The decision to close it was not an easy one for the hospice but when the costs of the new leasehold agreement, rates, utilities, insurance, alarm systems and staffing are considered it is clear that in the current climate these costs will outstrip any profit.

"This situation is unsustainable as the hospice has to raise over 60 per cent of its income to fund hospice services across the whole of Inverclyde.

"The Kempock Street shop is also a much larger shop, allowing it to accommodate the stock of both shops and be more profitable to able to help fund patient care."

But Allison, who is Gourock born and bred, argues that the Kempock Street shop is not as accessible.

She said: "There is the parking ticket issue.

"You can't get parked in Kempock Street.

"The shop at Cardwell is a popular wee shop where you can park easily when handing in donations and it's open six days a week."

Hospice chief executive Linda McEnhill says the closure is a 'difficult but necessary decision'.

She added: "The charity sector is not immune to the same situation facing large retailers.

“Many consumers are choosing to shop online and the rise in out-of-town shopping centres with free parking means that there are fewer people on the high street.

“We have two shops in Gourock within a mile of each other and it does not make financial sense to keep a shop open that is going cost money rather than raise well needed funds to offer hospice services in Inverclyde.

“We encourage local people to keep donating to us and shopping at Kempock Street and say a big thank-you to all those staff at Cardwell Bay and hope they will continue offering their time and expertise in another shop or volunteer role."