“The bunting’s out; we’re back in business,” rejoiced Amanda Oscroft, co-owner of Love It, card and gift shops in Bury St Edmunds and Stamford. “It feels a little strange, but the love for our little shops has been overwhelming. We’ve had plenty of customers, all observing social distance and telling us we have been missed. That said, it’s a bugger when you’re a hugger like me!” added Amanda.
Indies up and down the country re-opened to a positive fanfare yesterday, stealing a march on many multiples, with the likes of Card Factory and Paperchase adopting a slow re-opening approach. Paperchase is adopting a staggered re-opening of its stores, while some branches (such as its Norwich shop) will not be re-opening. It only opened 17 of its stores, with others to follow ‘over the coming weeks and months’. Likewise, Card Factory only opened around 100 of its stores, with more to follow next Monday.
Scribbler however souped up its initial plans of a phased return by opening all of its stores yesterday.
“The sun shone; everyone was in a wonderful mood – what a great start,” John Procter, co-owner of Scribbler exclaimed to PG Buzz, a couple of hours into the re-opening. “I am sure that the sales levels will be all over the place, but at least we are all open,” said John.
With so much thought having gone into making their stores as safe as possible for customers and staff, by altering layout, creating signage, limiting the number of customers to allow for social distancing, installing screens, providing hand santiser and other PPE, for many indies it was a sense of happy relief that all their hard work was rewarded by the stream of smiling customers through their doors.
“It was so good to get the doors open,” exclaimed Leona Janson-Smith, co-owner of Postmark (a group of four card shops in London). “I think we were all feeling slightly anxious beforehand, but once we got the lights on, the doors open and people started coming in, it was like we had never been shut,” she added, from behind the counter in the Balham store.
Click below to see and hear it from Leona herself:
Miles Robinson, co-owner of House of Cards, six card and gift shops based in the Home Counties was equally pleased with the positive reaction from customers to the re-opening.
“It was a good, calm first day with sales at a good level. Customer numbers were down, but average spend was up, so we’re happy,” said Miles. “Our staff were happy with the new guidance and customers were receptive too.”
House of Cards, like Postmark had purchased PPE visors for their staff from greeting card printers, Windles which has been selling them on a not for profit basis.
“I have so missed being able to go shopping. It is so good to be able to do something real and normal,” said a male customer as he paid for a Father’s Day card in The Indigo Tree in Streatham yesterday morning, when PG Buzz visited.
Harriet de Wolff, co-owner of The Indigo Tree (which has card and gift shops in Streatham and Crystal Palace) said she was really pleased how customers had responded to the one-way system it had adopted to safeguard social distancing.
“It’s been great, we’ve had a steady stream of customers,” said Harriet. “We hope that there will be an upsurge in people supporting their local high street, having been given a taste over the last 10 weeks of what it would be like if they didn’t.”
Click below to hear from Harriet and meet Doris…
Tracey Meehan, owner of card and gift store Kado, Princes Risborough is another indie who has been delighted by the reaction from customers, both to the newly decorated store as well as the ability to stock up on cards.
“Within the first 10 minutes of re-opening I had two customers who came in and each left having bought a big wodge of cards,” said Tracey, who has been touched by the loyalty to the shop. “Another lady came in for a card this morning that she was sending to Spain, but wanted it to come from a local shop so had hung on until we re-opened, which was so nice to hear,” she added.
Click below to hear from Tracey…
Top: An Instagram post from Rosie Made A Thing in support of its retail customers re-opening.