One of Harrogate’s most prominent town centre landmarks has gone on the market for the first time in almost six decades as fourth-generation retailer Peter Jesper prepares to retire.
Stationery and fountain pen specialist Jespers has been trading in the town since 1901 and has occupied its current site on Oxford Street since the late 1960s.
The three-storey property near Harrogate Theatre is a familiar sight to shoppers thanks to its striking blue feature canopy, summer hanging baskets and seasonal window displays.
The sale of the building marks the end of an era on Oxford Street although Peter is hopeful that the family can also find a buyer for the business to continue the Jespers story.
Peter began working full-time in the family pen shop 40 years ago when a first-class stamp cost just 10p.
His father Charles, now 79, has continued to help out at Christmas and Peter’s three children George, Vicky and Dom have all spent time behind the counter sharing their mutual passion for fine writing instruments with customers.
With the next generation settled in other careers and Peter and his wife Kate are looking forward to slowing down (just a little) and spending more time with their children and young granddaughter, Peter said the time was right to hand over the building’s next historic phase to someone new.
He said: “Harrogate is embarking on exciting times as a Business Improvement District with new ideas and investment to steer what I am confident will be a vibrant future,” said Peter.
“I feel fortunate to have been involved on the BID committee, seeing for myself the commitment and determination that exists to re-focus the town for the next generation, and I am looking forward to watching Harrogate evolve and maybe contributing to the process in some way too.”
Peter’s great-grandfather Foster Barrett Jesper opened his hand engraving business in an attic workshop on Prospect Crescent in 1901 from where he completed work for top sporting and business organisations as well as for the Royal Family.
Jespers still count Ogden’s and Fattorini’s as their oldest customers too having engraved for them both in the very early days.
Today, the shop’s retail space covers three floors with stationery and pens on the ground floor, art and craft supplies in the lower ground floor showroom and two floors of offices and storage above, including a display of office furniture on the first floor.
The building is being sold by another established Harrogate business, surveyors and property agents FSS.
Dan Brumfitt of FSS said: “It is incredibly rare for a prime town centre property of this size and quality to come onto the open market and the building has huge potential for both investors and tenants.
“From an investor’s point of view, properties like this are highly sought after because of their scope for redevelopment of the upper floors into apartments to create a mixed-use site, whilst still leaving a retail unit that is larger than average for the town.
“Buyers will be aware that this is a prime location for retail and leisure businesses looking for a foothold in Harrogate and that the size of the space will appeal to a wide variety of tenants.
“We are honoured that Peter and his family have entrusted the sale of this historic property to FSS and we wish him a long and happy retirement,” added Dan.