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Newbury independent shop owner heartbroken after heartless thieves steal from store

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A Newbury independent shop owner was left heartbroken after a group of youths made off with hand-made goods while she wasn't looking.

Hannah Francis, who runs House of Bubbles Cosmetics in the Kennet Centre, said around £30-worth of hand-made products was stolen by children aged 10 to 15 as they left the store yesterday (Thursday) morning.

Ms Francis, who opened the shop in June to try to create a future for herself and her two-year-old daughter Jessica said the theft was “upsetting”.

Hannah Francis with her daughter Jessica, 2.
Hannah Francis with her daughter Jessica, 2.

She said: “This is Jessica’s second home and to have people come in and disrespect that is quite upsetting.

“It’s not a huge amount of money, but when some days we’re taking in £20 to £30 in a day, that is a lot.

“Every penny counts when we’re trying to stay open and keep a roof over our heads.”

Ms Francis called for "a little bit of humanity".
Ms Francis called for "a little bit of humanity".

Ms Francis, 24, said the theft had been particularly upsetting as the company was just a small, independent business rather than a chain, making all its products in its upstairs workshop.

The shop has been open since the summer in the Kennet Centre after around 18 months online, selling bath bombs and other aromatic products, as well as running painting workshops for children.

She continued: “We’re people with family trying to make a living, and when people shop with us it changes our lives, it really does.

“I’ve been able to do things with Jessica that I’d never been able to do before so when someone steals from us it affects our lives outside of work.

Ms Francis opened the shop in June.
Ms Francis opened the shop in June.

“This is our sole income and if we don’t make money we don’t get paid.

“I know it’s not acceptable no matter the size of the business, but a little bit of humanity in these hard times would be nice.”

Ms Francis has since posted an open letter to the thieves on Facebook attaching a photo of Jessica, describing how the £30-worth of products they’d stolen would buy “Jessica nappies and wipes for a month,” or “a new coat that she needs for the winter”, or “gas to heat our house for a month”.

House of Bubbles Cosmetics in the Kennet Centre.
House of Bubbles Cosmetics in the Kennet Centre.

The letter said: “I know you are only young, and I know you probably don’t have much money but I just wanted to share with you a photo of my daughter, Jessica.

“When you stole from my shop this morning, you were not stealing from a large business.

“You might not realise the implications of what you have done, but maybe this post might make you think twice before stealing from a small business again.

“So when you steal £30 worth of products from my shop, you’re stealing £30 from that little girl below.

“I try to always have a positive outlook, but times are really hard for many of us at the moment.

“Small local businesses need your support at the moment, so please think twice before stealing from us.

“I hope you enjoy the products you stole, and I hope in the future you will return as a paying customer.”

She said she had had an “overwhelming” response, with a lot of locals expressing their sadness and disappointment at the news – and some who responded to the Facebook post saying they’d now ordered products from the shop.

Ms Francis said she was now considering whether to involve the police or whether to introduce new security measures.

For more on House of Bubbles Cosmetics, visit its Facebook page or go to https://www.houseofbubblescosmetics.co.uk/.

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