MP hears stories of grit and adaptation of Saffron Walden businesses during and after coronavirus lockdown
PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 July 2020
Saffron Walden businesses share how they have adapted to attract new customers through and after coronavirus lockdown.
Saffron Walden businesses have adapted to attract new customers.
For some, coronavirus lockdown proved a challenge. For others, it was a boost.
Kemi Badenoch MP visited businesses, including Fanny & Frank, Café Cou Cou, Colorcraft and The Corner Cupboard, to find out how they have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.
She was pleased they had been able to access the Government Small Business Grant and that some had taken the option to furlough the staff.
“As we open up the economy, and Government support eases, it is vital we continue to support them as best we can,” she said.
Saffron Walden Mayor Heather Asker was among volunteers to help spruce up shop fronts before they reopened.
She said: “So many independent shops were actively changing their window displays throughout lockdown which I think is a fantastic way of ecouraging shoppers to come and investigate further once they were open.”
Cllr Asker added: “I’m one of the biggest stalwarts of independent traders and businesses and of our market and I think that every single opportunity should be grabbed.”
Printing, framing and photography shop Art@Home has created a click and collect service.
Tamara McCabe said the family business realised people still want gifts but prefer to browse online, then collect two days later.
They do instant photo printing, enlargements and gift canvases and have introduced an expanded range of baby scan frames in eight sizes and six colours.
“We have had a few people who have used it as an announcement for their partner,” she said.
The store has been in Saffron Walden for years and they still do custom framing for medals and memorabilia in Little Walden.
Charles Hardcastle, of Joseph Barnes Wines, said lockdown brought new customers, though initially they lost all trade from closed restaurants and bars.
“I decided to focus on local deliveries and the website. We put together a series of cases of wines at a really good price including free local delivery.
“We were absolutely overwhelmed with people wanting to order.”
Mr Hardcastle said they are still taking orders and people seem to be spending more on food and drink. “We have certainly attracted a new market.”
Jane Shaw, of Craft Days, said they added more products to the website during lockdown, their usual newsletters were filled with upbeat news and free patterns, and mail order was massively boosted.
The shop is now reopen, but with a large counter screen, one way system, and PPE.
They have moved their ‘Meet and Make’ social gathering for chats and to share skills to an online video platform.
Jane said: “Since reopening, we have already helped with getting knitting projects ‘back on track’, coped with at least four times the usual amount of sewing machines coming in for servicing, helped pick suitable new knitting and crochet projects and best of all welcomed many of our regular customers back to the shop. We hadn’t realised just how much we had missed them.”
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