We caught up with Karen Hardwick, owner of the Shaftesbury store, to discover how her business survived lockdown, how it feels to open again – and what’s selling well.
Karen, how did you cope when non-essential shops were told to close back in March? To start with I cried, then dressed our windows. When they stopped travel, I had to stay at home as I live 25 miles away from the shop.
How did you find government support? Government funding has been great; the grant arrived quickly and helped pay all outstanding bills so we could open with a clean slate. I have two members of staff who will still be part-furloughed due to childcare.
Did you have an online presence to keep a revenue stream flowing? Only a little bit, and our biggest selling item have been facemasks. Social media has been brilliant and I’ve kept people up to date with what we were doing in the shop during lock down – people seemed to enjoy seeing the progress we made with painting the shop on social media.
How have you found the reopening process? I’d had orders delivered to home ready for the reopening. We were lucky that one of our companies are now manufacturing screens so we’ve had them in place ready and people are pretty sensible about distancing. Our first days were crazy but now it’s calmer.
Shaftesbury high street has very narrow pavements so our town council decided to make it car-free for the first four weeks of non-essential shops re-opening. This has been great as people can now freely walk about and social distance – it’s made the high street much calmer and much safer.
Are you looking to replenish stock in coming weeks and months? I’ve already starting ordering things for Christmas… and the new Jellycats will be in soon. I’ve also got more home things as everyone has been decorating.
How do you feel about the rest of 2020? Positive. People really want to support the high street and shop local – we are hoping to expand.