Impressive turnout for Norwich's indy businesses leaves staff 'emotional'
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
An impressive turnout for Norwich's independent businesses left many feeling emotional on their first day of re-opening since the new year.
But despite the support from regulars, managers and owners were keen to stress the "Shop Local" message - imploring shoppers to pay small independents a visit and not just the high-street chains.
Susie Pritchard, who works at Mod One, said she'd been apprehensive about re-opening but that in the end there was no need.
"I actually got quite emotional and teary this morning while I was walking into work", she said.
"There were queues outside all the independent and charity shops along Pottergate and the Lanes and it was such a lovely thing to see. I felt really grateful.
"We knew there'd be a huge rush for the bigger shops like Primark, but it could have gone either way for us. My nervousness, admittedly, did turn to excitement once people started coming through the door.
"There's a real positive vibe and everyone is so happy. It's nice that people are popping into the shop for a chat and a browse while they wait for their hair appointment next door.
"It feels almost normal again."
Round the corner at Beaujangles jewellery store, diehard customers were queuing up before opening at 10am.
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"It's been busy because I think we provide a product not many others do", said manager Emmaleigh Webb. "Not only are people desperate to be out again, but our speciality is quality body jewellery and a lot of people don't feel comfortable getting that online."
For Miss Webb, it's more important than ever that people continue to shop local.
"We're not like big chains", she said. "When you buy something here you're supporting a close-knit local family."
Meanwhile, for Joe Ereira, web manager at Dogfish, things had been "very busy" in their Bedford Street store, with staff desperate to "get the ball rolling" after an online-only hiatus lasting a long four months.
"I can see a revival of the Norwich Lanes after this lockdown. People are really rooting for independents and it's incredible", he said.
"We're a close-knit family here and we're so grateful of the support we've seen already today."
Mandy Baird, owner at fashion store Scarlet on Norwich's Guildhall Hill, said things had been absolutely "manic" for her as regulars showed up in the droves.
"There were people queuing up at 9.40 ready for us to open at 10am," she said.
"I mean it's nothing on Primark, but we've definitely been non-stop. Our regulars have supported us online the whole way through the lockdown, but it's been great to see so many of them turn up this morning in person."
Likewise for Julie Wallace, owner at Nova Silver jewellery store on Norwich Lanes, supporting local businesses means helping retain the "personal touch" that chains often lack.
She said: "We expected it to be quiet this morning because we thought people would be cautious.
"After opening in June last year trade took months to pick up, but surprisingly, my staff have been kept on their feet this morning.
"We've been doing well online and we've been responsive on emails and social media, but it's nothing like being back in the actual store.
"That means us chatting to customers and giving expertise is half of the fun and half our job. We've really missed doing that in lockdown - providing people with that personal touch."
Michael Jacobs from Sew Creative on St Giles Street said his store had been quiet, but that once the high-street rush subsided he hoped people would take advantage of the "personal service" his staff also had to offer.
"We do workshops, teach people how to use the sewing machines and give out two free sewing lessons with every machine you purchase", he said.
"I think the people who might come to our store are probably all out queueing at Primark and Debenhams, but that's because those shops are sitting on a load of old stock with huge reductions.