Families join fight to save ice cream stall in Potteries Shopping Centre
SHOPPERS have come out in support of an ice cream stall which could be forced to close or move.
Tennessee Secrets has been selling ice creams and frozen yoghurt in the Potteries Shopping Centre, in Hanley, for around two decades.
But it is now under threat from multi-million pound modernisation plans for Debenhams.
It is understood the department store wants the area of the mall approaching its doors, where the ice cream stand is based, kept clear.
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Staff have been given redundancy notices and have now gathered around 300 signatures on a petition.
A source said: "A lot of people are upset about what is going on.
"The shopping centre has told the stall it has got to move because of work at Debenhams.
"Staff were given their notices but have had them extended for a few weeks because the owner and the shopping centre are still talking things through.
"They have been offered a stall on the footbridge between the car park and shopping centre but that won't be any good.
"The stall has been there for years.
"It deserves a prominent place and that is what customers expect."
Department store Debenhams is undergoing a complete revamp with a new layout.
It is expected to be completed in September with a new brow bar in the beauty section.
Quiz and Lipsy will be added to the womenswear department, the handbag section will be extended and a new Shoe World will be introduced.
The refurbishment will also see a new personal shopping suite created, as well as a web shop and a modernised wedding gift area.
Shopping centre managers and the owner of Tennessee Secrets are still believed to be negotiating what will happen to the stall.
Regular customer Jean Wilson, aged 68, from Basford, said: "I have been having ice creams from tere for years and my grandchildren love it as a treat.
"It is nice to know we have still got some independent retailers who aren't part of big chains.
"I'm sure the regulars will follow them wherever they go but I hope this doesn't put them off trading and they close all together.
"They need a place where people can see them."
Rebecca Scott, aged 27, a customer services adviser from Clayton, said: "It is not fair if the ice cream stall has got to move because of Debenhams, but I suppose we will never get told if that is the real reason.
"Small businesses need all the help they can get.
"I would sign the petition. I like that stall."
The Potteries Shopping Centre and the owner of Tennessee Secrets declined to comment on the situation.