Brookside Garden Centre in Kent has decided not to produce its award-winning grotto in the foreseeable future because it has got ‘too big’ for the family business.
After celebrating its 10th anniversary this Christmas, the grotto has become the victim of its own success, having won multiple GTN Christmas Awards for its innovation and popularity.
“We have created something that has got too big for our little family business,” said Simon and Alison Shead, who produced the grotto with their son Matt. “We only have 3,000 tickets to sell but this year we had 16,000 customers on our website wanting tickets. That means over 13,000 unhappy customers.
“We have created such a good reputation that some customers have started to expect too much from us for the price we charge.”
The garden centre has actually received 'threats' on a weekly basis because the grotto had been sold out with some customers believing their family deserved tickets more than others.
“We've had comments like, 'you're punishing our children because we didn't get tickets',” added Simon and Alison.
“We've had countless people threaten to go to the media because they felt we weren't selling them tickets even though we had sold out.
“Over the past 10 years we have raised more than £60,000 for multiple charities such as Make-A-Wish, DEBRA and to the Miles Miller Trust, a local lad from our village.
“After putting tens of thousands of families before our very own we have decided we need time to enjoy Christmas with our own family who have been neglected this past decade.
“We aren't saying never again, but the grotto you know and love has gone, and we will need to come up with a new business model that suits us and the customer over the next couple of years.
“To all the customers, staff, friends and family that have supported us over the years we cannot express enough how much your support means to us.”