A devastated young mother has been forced out of her Lerwick business through an act of vandalism that she fears could happen again.
Chantelle Mockford, 22, opened her Commercial Street shop less than a year ago. But Fat Little Pony is closing on 1st May after the large shop windows worth thousands of pounds were deliberately broken.
The two windows covering the entire shop front are now boarded up.
Chantelle, who is mother to two-and-a-half-year-old Jade, said she was “devastated”. She said: “It’s just ridiculous, I haven’t even been open a year.
“The insurance for the windows only covers us up to £750, and they would cost £2,000 to repair. I’m frightened it might happen again. They [the culprit] have not been caught so they might think they’ve got away with it.”
Although the person suspected of breaking the windows around two weeks ago was caught on CCTV, police have not yet been able to formally identify the culprit.
Chantelle had always wanted to run her own shop and had been selling goods online for some time.
Her business grew and when the opportunity to open Fat Little Pony came up she used her savings to go for it, selling housewares, gifts and local crafts.
The shop had been doing well and she had been enjoying the venture, which opened on 25th May last year, and which she had hoped would be a way of supporting her daughter.
She said: “I’d always wanted to have a craft shop. It had done really well, we had good feedback and the sales were good.
“It’s been good working with the local craft people, they’ve been really good, and the tourists love it.” But the cost of the repair and the fact that the police have not yet concluded the case have made her fearful of continuing the venture.
Now, she said: “I’m quite devastated about having to close the shop. Being a young mum and living on my own I wanted to be able to provide for Jade.”
In the run-up to Christmas she had sold “hundreds” of novelty cushions, posters and wooden ornaments, and the tourist season last year had been very successful.
An expansion to bigger premises had been a possibility, but now, with the windows boarded up: “It looks as if we’re closed. Anything new coming into the shop we can’t display it.”
Chantelle now works at Peacock’s store, where she is the manager, while her retired father Tony looks after Fat Little Pony.
He said the broken windows had cost his daughter dear, and had happened just as the cruise ships were returning and the tourist season beginning. “She’s lost a lot of business,” he said. “If it was just a case of replacing the windows she’d do it, but there’s always the fear they’d do it again. It had been going really well until this happened. I’m quite upset for her.”
He said he had been the one to discover the damage. Initially he did not realise anything was amiss, but as he opened the door he felt glass crunching underfoot. Shards of glass had showered over a display of baby shoes on the window sill, he said, and all had to be thrown away as they could not be sold. If the windows had not been laminated the damage could have been even worse.
He rejected the idea of steel shutters on the windows, which he deemed unnecessary in a supposedly safe place like Lerwick: “the street doesn’t need it.” But mostly he is concerned for his daughter. “I feel really sorry for her,” he said.
Chief inspector Eddie Graham of Lerwick Police called the breaking of the windows “a callous and cowardly act”. He said: “Cases like these are never closed. On occasion people might try to hide their identity, however this was a particularly distressing crime perpetrated against the victim and on that basis I’m appealing to the wider community for information. We pursue every avenue of enquiry until they’re exhausted.”