We caught up with Clare and Hannah Bishop, owners of the Worcestershire gift shop, to discover how their business survived lockdown, how it feels to open again – and what’s selling well.
How did you find government support? We found it incredibly helpful to be able to furlough staff as it was essential that we should support them as they are a great team. We were also grateful for the grant from Worcestershire Council that meant that we could pay for the stock from our suppliers that had recently been delivered prior to lockdown.
How did you cope when non-essential shops were told to close? When we went into lockdown it gave us the impetus to open a Trouva boutique online to sell our products. It all ran quite smoothly and as the shop was closed, we could focus on the transition in distributing our products to customers all over the country and abroad including America and Australia. Chunky knit throws; marble coasters, sculptures and home furnishings went well. As the majority of people were confined to their homes, we found that homeware items sold especially well, plus Gisela Graham Easter decorations and Emma Bridgewater during the holiday period.
It also gave us the confidence and incentive to open our own website and online shop which we have launched in the last couple of weeks with a competition to win some lovely Caroline Gardner products kindly donated to us during lockdown.
Did you work on building social media/online presence during lockdown? We kept up to date with our social media platforms during lockdown, showing customers products that we were loading onto the website daily and keeping customers entertained with our displays and gorgeous pictures of our products.
How have you found the reopening process? Everything seemed alien to us but we have learnt to get used to it as everybody is in the same boat. We just have to do what we can to make our staff and customers feel as safe as possible in the store.
What’s your initial impression of the ‘new normal’? With us only able to have four customers in the shop at any one time, it has been quieter day to day. The fact that we’re now selling online helps to counter this and we are hopeful that as lockdown is eased, we will see a change.
How are stock levels at the moment? Some stock levels are fairly low, as some of the factories haven’t reopened yet for us to reorder from. But other brands we have got plenty of stock. We are looking to replenish Emma Bridgewater and Garden Trading as they seem to be selling particularly well as well as some of our candle companies.