We caught up with Chris Beards, owner of Mantons card and gift shop on the Isle of Man, to discover how his business survived lockdown, how it feels to open again – and what’s selling well.
Chris, how did you cope when non-essential shops were told to close? We decided to close before the government announcement to keep everyone safe. Closing meant we had hardly any Easter card or gift sales and missed out on the start of tourist season.
How did you find government support? We didn’t get as much support as retailers in the UK – the grant was smaller, and we still have to pay business rates this year. We are proud we were able to pay all our team members in full and, once we reopened, pay our suppliers.
Did you have an online presence to keep a revenue stream flowing? We offered a greeting card delivery service including handwriting cards and sending them directly to the recipient. Because of our reputation for stocking the highest quality cards, people were happy for us to choose a suitable card on their behalf. This also resulted in lots of local media coverage.
How have you found the reopening process? Reopening with social distancing took a lot of work including securing PPE and moving displays around to prevent any potential bottlenecks. We are nearly back to normal now but still keeping up with the extra cleaning and so on. The big worry is the possibility of going back into lockdown.
How are stock levels at the moment? We have good stock levels but a few of our suppliers have either gone into administration or are short of stock. Because of our reputation and relationship with supplier,s we have been able to get nearly everything we need stock wise. We have new stock arriving daily from our current suppliers but will always look at stocking different companies if they have great products.
Feelings about the rest of 2020? Retail will be tougher than before, and more shops will be permanently closed by the end of the year as the impact of the recession starts to hit. I hope all indie retail gift shops can survive.