THE owner of a St Neots craft shop believes "supermarket syndrome" is to blame for the impending closure of her business. Christine's Cottage Crafts, which was opened in St Neots High Street three-and-a-half years ago by Christine Chivers, is closing on May 5. Mrs Chivers, 56, told The Hunts Post she believes superstores are to blame for the demise of her shop, which sells patchwork fabrics, needlecraft kits, beads, buttons and ribbons. "Supermarket syndrome is to blame, people believe they can get crafts at a cheaper price from international chain stores like Hobby Craft, but the choice is not as good. "People are being brainwashed in to shopping at supermarkets." She added that, despite spending more than \u00A320,000 advertising, her small shop cannot compete with large chains, and she is now at the end of the line. "It is an utter shame but I cannot sustain it any longer. I will really miss it but I have worked hard [in the crafts business] for five-and-a-half years, so if it doesn't work now, it never will." The mother-of-six believes her loss should act as a warning to other small shop owners in the town. "I honestly believe in a few years St Neots High Street will consist of nothing more than boring international chain stores with no originality. There will no longer be any small shops that give a town its character," she said. John Davies, chairman of the St Neots Town Centre Partnership, also believes small shops should be on their guard. He said: "Because of high rates and rents, small shops are finding it hard to survive in most market towns. It is a tough environment. We are always being warned about clone towns with no character, and I think the Government and planners should ensure St Neots does not turn into one of those." When her shop closes, Mrs Chivers plans to spend more time with her children and grandchildren as well as volunteer for some charity work. She also hopes to accompany her husband Dr David Chivers, who is a primatologist and conservationist at Cambridge University, on some of his travels in the tropics. * Does St Neots town centre have a bright future or is the character being drained away? E-mail your views to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TB.