Michael Savell, 64, and his wife Maureen, 61, ran the Balloon Workshop in Gravesend but a lack of trade has finally forced them to close.
Michael and Maureen Savell are leaving Gravesend after 15 years of trading
The husband and wife team ran their business for five years in the St George’s Centre before moving to the High Street.
Mr Savell said he was “tired” by the financial strain. Their final day was last Wednesday.
But as well as closing their shop, they have been forced to sell their family home of 31 years because of financial problems caused by the business.
They now live in rented accommodation, a situation they described as “devastating”.
Mr Savell said: “The lease is up, and the landlords aren’t willing to charge a reasonable rate.
“The business has effectively robbed us of 31 years and it’s time to call it a day. We’ve lost our house, our savings, everything.”
Mr Savell believes Gravesham council could have done more to improve the town for shoppers over the years.
He said: “We’re retiring basically. We regret coming to this part of the town. If we could go back 10 years we’d never have done it but at the time there were great plans by the council about the regeneration of the High Street.”
Mr Savell, who also ran the Cake Bits shop in the same building, said there were many reasons why business dropped.
He said: “Undoubtedly Gravesend, like most towns, has suffered with the internet and out-of-town shopping, but there have been other things.
“When the council introduced the Saturday car park charge we lost 50% of our Saturday business and it was never the same.
“The last five years have been a real struggle. I do feel angry but it’s not just the council’s fault.
“We can’t blame them for everything that is happening, but they could come down a lot more to make this an attractive proposition for people.”
A spokesman for Gravesham council said: “Saturday car parking charges were reintroduced in January 2012 after two years of free parking. There is no evidence that footfall in the town centre has changed as a result.
“Our charges remain among the lowest in Kent and parking remains free in the evenings and on Sundays.
“Throughout this period the privately-owned shoppers’ car parks in the two shopping centres kept their charges and in one case doubled them.
“It is a mistake to think of “free” car parking at Bluewater being an attraction since, for most people in Gravesham, the journey costs (seven miles each way from Gravesend town) would outweigh the car park fees. Both the town centre and Bluewater offer very different retail propositions.
“The council remains committed to regeneration of the High Street and the Heritage Quarter as a whole.”