A Pembrokeshire shop facing declining footfall as the cost of living crisis continues, has decided to pivot and transform into a theatre and museum.

Bertie’s Mercantile opened in Dimond Street, Pembroke Dock in December 2022.

Selling vintage and quirky pieces, owner Tess French describes it as "a step up from a charity shop but not an antique shop" or "Tenby clobber at Pembroke Dock prices".

When she first opened, she said that business was steady but footfall has declined drastically in the last six months.

“Pembroke Dock, like all the towns round here, footfall is dead and the shops are feeling it,” said Tess.

“Everyone is feeling it. Even the popular shops. I’m looking out my front window at middle of the day and I can see two people.”

With this in mind, Tess has decided to turn her shop into a toy museum and puppet theatre.

The theatre-trained shop owner came across a lot of vintage Pelham puppets that she has lovingly restored and plans to take put these on display as well as taking a Punch and Judy show on the road.

“People used to say that they liked coming into the shop because it is like a museum, so I thought why not turn it into a museum,” she said.

The Pembroke Dock Puppet Theatre and Toy Museum will be the only one of its kind in south Wales and will include exhibits, an area for puppet shows and a gift shop.

Tess will also take the show on the road, with Punch and Judy shows already booked for the Pembroke Festival as well as some donated showings at Ashdale Nursing Home and New Hedges August fundraiser.

“I have been quite surprised by the level of response,” said Tess. “Lots of people are saying that it will be great and I have had lots of bookings for Punch and Judy and people asking if I do parties (yes I do parties).”

Tess is also hoping to get the local community involved and hopes to put puppet shows on about the history of Pembroke Dock as well as Welsh history.

She is currently in the process of changing the shop and hoped to open the museum and theatre shortly.

It is a change of direction,” she said. “It seems to be looking like it’s going to take off.”

To find out more, visit Pembroke Dock Puppet Theatre and Toy Museum on Facebook.