THE longest running tenant in Grafton Shoppingworld has shut its doors, ending an 18-year connection to the shopping precinct.
On Tuesday Ed and Jo Piper's Bakers Delight store sold its last loaf of bread with the closure blamed on falling turnover and an inability to keep paying the rent.
The Pipers came to Grafton 18 years ago when the Bakers Delight franchise in Shoppingworld became available.
"We were here for an hour and looked around and thought this is a great place to come and bring up children," Mr Piper said.
He said the first 12 years in the supermarket were great for the business, but a move during the Shoppingworld redevelopment six years ago led to a fall in turnover.
He said business had dropped off by two thirds once the supermarket became fully operational after it re-opened.
He said a business consultant hired by Shoppingworld had told him the position of the escalators in the mall was not allowing the amount of passing traffic he needed to create the turnover the business needed.
Mr Piper said he got a call at 4.30pm on Monday that the business was to wind up the following day.
"We had been in negotiations with the (supermarket owners) McConaghys about issues with the rent," he said.
"But it was a terrible blow to get the news on Monday we had to close the next day."
The Pipers spent Tuesday clearing out their shop, which employed five people fulltime plus a couple of casuals.
"It's been a terrible day," Mr Piper said. "But people have been absolutely wonderful to us, offering to help however they can.
"I would really like to thank everyone who's supported us over the years, all the staff we've had and the other shop owners in Shoppingworld, they've been so supportive over the years."
Mr Piper and Bakers Delight were also heavily involved in community work.
Dying his beard pink, he became synonymous with cancer fundraising in recent years.
His store also supplied thousands of serves of bread to emergency services personnel during flood and fire emergencies in the region.