Love Local: How a Norfolk town has bounced back with easing of lockdown
PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 June 2020
Copyright: Archant 2020
With many business owners opening their doors for the first time in almost three months, reporter ABIGAIL NICHOLSON visited one street in Aylsham to see how independent shops were getting on post lockdown.
Businesses across the region have flung open their doors in an attempt to get back to some kind of normal after the coronavirus pandemic.
In Aylsham, the smell of fresh spray paint was prominent throughout the town as “one way” and “keep your distance” signs were being sprayed on paving slabs.
It is clear the town is far from the version of normal remembered by all, but the atmosphere from passers-by and shop owners brought Red Lion Street to life.
Formed almost entirely of independent businesses run by people living in Norfolk, the street was full of life on the first week of non-essential trading.
Crawford White, the owner of GF White Butchers, stayed open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to help customers get fresh produce during lockdown.
He said: “We had two weeks of absolute panic buying pre-lockdown, then Boris said don’t go out and people rush bought some more.
“We had to completely change our ethos and business during lockdown to offer a delivery service.
“We still find that it’s changing each week, I think it’s going to be a case of having to adapt all the time.”
The store now offers a one in, one out policy to those shopping in store, a collection option along with delivery for customers within a seven mile radius.
Mr White said: “We’re going to keep this delivery service and work on it as it has proved so popular in lockdown.
“We have bent over backwards to help our customers, when delivery slots weren’t available at supermarkets, we were there.
“Use us or lose us.”
Next door to GF White Butchers, Broadland Framers and Gallery has a completely different experience of lockdown.
The business, which has been located on Red Lion Street for six years, closed its doors at the end of March and only reopened on June 16.
Claire Clarke, co-owner of the business, said: “We shut down on the day we were told to, we were all furloughed and we come in and got all our screens ready to reopen today [Tuesday 16].
“We tried an online exhibition and kept updating our website and social media. It was really hard because we can’t just send things out because they’re all bespoke and fragile.”
Like many shops, Mrs Clarke and fellow co-owner Iain Pusey, have added safety measures into their stores to make sure they’re Covid secure.
She said: “One of our suppliers, Centrado, have been brilliant. They sent us a pack of posters, tape and hand sanitiser to make sure that we had everything we needed to reopen.
“We have moved everything around so people have less contact with items and it has been working well.”
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Over the road, The Little Clothes Shop, also shut down its shop when lockdown was announced almost three months ago.
The business, which has been located in the town for 20 years, made the decision not to trade during coronavirus.
Julie Mason, who has worked as a sales assistant in the store, said: “We didn’t adapt our business during lockdown, there wasn’t much we could do so we just had to take it on the chin.
“Today is my first day back and I feel safe. We have perspex, a one way system and hand sanitiser.
“People have just been coming in and saying hello and asking how I am, it’s a really great atmosphere.”
With coronavirus still being an ongoing concern in the UK, businesses will have to keep adapting and coming up with creative ways to trade for months to come.
• The Eastern Daily Press launched the Love Local campaign to encourage people to spend within our region and give the independent industry a vital boost.
How social bubbles have benefitted a family run business
For family ran business Carousel Chocolates, the addition for ‘social bubbles’ has made it’s opening week much easier.
Mother and daughter duo, June Norman and Sarah Miller, have been able to merge households meaning they can both work in the shop with relaxed social distancing rules.
Mrs Millar said: “The social bubbles were announced just in time for reopening, meaning that working together is much easier.
“We were worried about how we would be able to social distance behind the counter before the new rules were announced. Now we don’t have to worry about it as mum lives on her own.”
The shop, which adapted and began a delivery service during lockdown, have carried on being creative and have moved it’s ice cream station so it can be served out of the window.
Mrs Norman said: “The idea just came to mind one night and it has been brilliant. It means that we can have a separate queue for ice cream and the shop is less crowded.”
“I shopped locally during lockdown, everybody should”
The owner of Little Garden Design Company, is encouraging others to shop local after not stepping foot in a chain supermarket for almost three months.
Heather Newsome, who is based within her sister’s business, The Little Interior Company, on Red Lion Street has noticed a huge change by shopping locally.
She said: “I shop local, I use the butchers all the time and our local grocers and nothing can beat the service or quality.
“It is easier, more friendly and not as daunting. How friendly traders are makes you feel more relaxed.
“Everybody should keep it local because those are the people that are hit the most, and people like us are losing business.
“If the chains are worried about falling numbers and facing closure, think about how smaller businesses might be.”
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