BARGAIN hunting customers have turned out in force ahead of the closure of The County Stores, in Taunton.

Hundreds of items have been reduced to clear and many shelves have been emptied.

Meanwhile, people have been enjoying a final cuppa upstairs in the restaurant before the businesses finally closes at 3pm today.

Among loyal customers shopping for the last time were partners Brian Walls and Crystal Barnes.

Somerset County Gazette:

Crystal said she made a special effort to visit from Crewkerne despite being unwell.

She added: "It's such a wonderful place, I couldn't possibly miss the last day.

"I've been coming here since 1994, especially to the restaurant.

"It's extremely sad it's closing. We're going to miss it."

"Brian said: "I'll miss it too. It's been a family business for more than 180 years. You wouldn't want to be the owner whose closing it."

Husband and wife Kath and Martin Stephens have been regular customers who have used the restaurant most Saturdays.

Somerset County Gazette:

Kath said: "It's sad it's closing. It's horrible seeing all the empty shelves after it's been here all our lives and much longer."

Martin said: "It's a really sad day. I hear it's going to be a car museum - I'm not sure that's a good idea in the centre of Taunton."

Partners James Chapman and Ann Weller will have plenty of happy memories of festive fun in the restaurant.

Somerset County Gazette:

James said: "We used to pop in before and had Christmas dinners here in the restaurant. We've been coming for years."

Ann said: "When it was changed round to make it more modern, it lost a lot of its character."