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Writing is finally on the wall for shop that put posters in every bedroom

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 16, 2014

The Tennis Girl was one of Athena's all-time best sellers

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For generations it decorated the bedroom walls of millions of teenagers – but now the last surviving branch of Athena will shut its doors next month, it has been confirmed.

The art retailer had opened shops across the United Kingdom since it was founded in 1964 but now because of a mixture of internet shopping and rents the last branch will shut in Exeter next month.

Manager Jacqueline Nicol confirmed the newsadding that September 21 will be its last day of trading.

She said Exeter is the company's last store after the Plymouth and Yeovil shops closed earlier this year.

The art retailer, which has been in Exeter for over 25 years, currently employs six staff.

The store, originally located in the middle of the High Street, moved to the premises on the corner of North Street more than 20 years ago. It is the last remaining branch after the Plymouth shop shut in March, blaming the move on "high rents and rates".

The Yorkshire Building Society is likely to move into the shop in Exeter High Street.

The building society, which has a branch in Fore Street, has applied to the city council for planning permission to make its new home in premises currently occupied by Athena on the corner of North Street.

Athena went into administration when it failed financially in 1995 and has survived as an e-commerce company under the brand name of Vivarti (with the byline "powered by Athena") since then. The retailer will most likely be remember for its most iconic posters including The Tennis Girl, which shows a young woman from behind walking towards the net of a tennis court with her hand reaching behind lifting her short tennis dress, and Man and Baby. Man and Baby (or L'Enfant) proved to be the shop's best seller and went on sale in 1977. It shows a shirtless male model holding a young baby and sold more than 5 million copies.

Residents of Exeter reacted to the news of the shop's closure with nostalgia when it was first announced last week.

Posting on Facebook, Jess Best wrote: "NO THIS IS WRONG. Athena is a great shop and it's great for gifts."

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