EMPTY shelves, and allegedly unpaid staff for a village shop has left Hardwicke residents in a pickle.
Villagers who have spent years relying on the convenience store in Elmgrove Road East now face an uphill struggle finding anything worth buying as store bosses deplete it of stock for yet unknown reasons.
One worker at the shop claimed staff had not been paid.
They said: “I have worked in the shop for nearly five years. It started going down hill in May. We had no deliveries.
“We kept working to keep the local shop open as it is very important to many local people.
“Many of us have left as we could not live on fresh air. They still owe some of us wages from July, August, September and October. I even had to move as I could not pay my mortgage.”
Hardwicke resident Jayne Bailey said: “I know that they’ve had a lot of problems lately with not paying staff properly and lack of stock.
“The shop is well used by local people and used to be open seven days a week until 10pm but it’s been half empty and they’ve been closed at night and on Sundays for about 6 months now.”
Councillor David Mossman, chairman of Hardwicke Parish Council, said: “Our present village store is not being run correctly and looks as if it is about to close despite the assurances of the present lease holders.”
The leaseholder of the shop is a pension fund. A spokesman for the fund said: “There have been discussions to get an agreement which keeps the shop open and to secure a long-term agreement.”
Ambitions of setting up a rival community shop in Hardwicke have flopped.
When Quedgeley Methodist Church planned to buy the nearby former Starting Gate pub, talks surrounding the opening of a rival village shop were going well.
But the sale of the pub has since fallen through after another bidder was able to raise the money quicker than the church.
A new church and community building had been planned for the site.
Church leaders had previously presented their plans to Hardwicke parish councillors.
At the time, parish clerk Kevin Lee said: “The parish council was pleased to learn of the church’s interest in taking possession of the site.
“Possible additional services that could be provided from the premises were also discussed.
“We asked whether the church would consider running other community services such as a store from the site.
“Representatives from the church agreed that this may be an option.”
Reverend Graham Miles, from Quedgeley Methodist Church, said: “We were looking to purchase the Starting Gate but it was a lot of money and unfortunately we weren’t able to raise the funds in time.
“It is a shame really because it has lots of rooms that could be been used for community use and we had already designed one that could have become the post office and village store.
“It was also ideal because it has plenty of parking, which is always an issue these days.
“We presented our plans to councillors and they told us about the problems with the current shop and we were only too happy to try and help.”
The Post Office have previously confirmed they have no intention of closing their Hardwicke branch, but because it is housed within the shop there are concerns that it could be lost if the convenience store shuts its doors permanently.