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Off The Road: Agent Rosie Trow’s Revelations

Rosie Trow is the South West agent for Five Dollar Shake, Glick, ICG, Jellycat, Marmalade, Museums & Galleries, Paper Rose, Paper Salad, Real & Exciting Designs, Redback, Transomnia and Wrendale Designs.

Up until three and a bit weeks ago she spent her time tearing around the roads of Bristol, Bath, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall trying not to be too late for appointments with her customers. Now she is never late for anything as time has stopped, but she so misses the buzz of business. Here she shares her life since the lockdown…

“In 30 years of working in the industry I have never experienced such weirdness, In the first week of lockdown my neighbours were on the verge of reporting a squatter had moved into my house as I have never spent this much time at home during daylight hours. Now, in Week 4 of lockdown, like everyone else I am having to accept totally new experiences, like being able to respond to our neighbourly WhatsApp needs which seem to have given me a daily chore of grocery and prescription collecting for the elderly, which I don’t mind at all.

I am not good at factoring in time ‘off the road’, and the very idea of not being able to enjoy the company and social time I experience with my customers was something I didn’t want to contemplate. However, I am however very fortunate to live in the Somerset countryside where ‘social distancing’ is very picturesque. Having always said “I don’t need to go for walks as carrying my sample bags and boxes into customers shops is enough exercise”, for Steve (my partner) and Jake (our Jackcorgi, a lively mix of Jack Russell and Corgi) it has become a regular treat during my day…

Above: From working to walking. Rosie’s home territory and four-legged ‘colleague’, Jake in rural Somerset.
Above: From working to walking. Rosie’s home territory and four-legged ‘colleague’, Jake in rural Somerset.

I had appointments with my retail customers right up until the 23 March and since then I have spent a lot of time writing cards to my customers and sending them emails with as much helpful information as  I can lay my hands on about grants and loans etc. I want them just to let them know I am here and although there is little I can do, just being able to keep them in the picture that some of my other customers have got their grants through gives hope to those who are still waiting for theirs.

Above: Rosie writing cards to customers - this one being a reproduction of Lowry’s ‘Going to work’ painting from Museums & Galleries.
Above: Rosie writing cards to customers – this one being a reproduction of Lowry’s ‘Going to work’ painting from Museums & Galleries.

Being a self-employed agent I do have the understanding of what the independent retailers are going through and the industry dominates a big part of my life, so everybody working together to make the most of this unprecedented time will help us all keep our sanity.

Admittedly adapting to life not spending 12 hours working (six hours of them in a car in busy traffic), I find surprisingly hard. What to do when you can’t do what you want to do? The irony of not needing to go in the car is that fuel is the cheapest it’s been for the last six years and we can’t take advantage of it!

So, I set about tidying my garage, which has become an increasingly messy storage area for excess stock from all the companies I have represented over the years. In this mega clear up I found a sample of a Wrendale Designs’ bird nesting box which we have now affixed in the garden and now has tenants. Those of you who know me, know I am terrified of birds, but maybe I can overcome that somewhat irrational fear of our feathered friends. I never thought I would be any good at garage tidying so there is hope on me conquering my bird phobia!

Above: Birds of a feather flock together! Bird-phobic Rosie is now even encouraging them into her garden by installing a Wrendale Designs nesting box to her fence.
Above: Birds of a feather flock together! Bird-phobic Rosie is now even encouraging them into her garden by installing a Wrendale Designs nesting box to her fence.

Encouragingly, I am taking orders for Christmas as some of my companies I carry are asking for completion of these as they need a guide for how much stock to produce. This is not easy as so many shops in my area have staff responsible for this who are furloughed so can’t talk to me, but I don’t want them to miss out as I know suppliers, especially those who produce in the Far East, will have to place their quantities with their factories before too long.

While making sure Christmas orders are being placed seem trivial at a time when so many are losing their lives, it will be our livelihoods that we will rely on when things return to the ‘new normal’, whatever that looks like.

Anyhow, as soon as we have ‘lift off’, I am ready. The car is raring to go (filled up with cheaper petrol), my samples are super tidy, the catalogues are stacked up in readiness. And you never know, I may even get to my appointments on time! I am so ready for that time when we can go back to our principals and retailers and build back up to where we left off.

Above: Whatever happens Rosie’s positive mind will mean her glass will never be empty.
Above: Whatever happens Rosie’s positive mind will mean her glass will never be empty.

Although some people think I live in fantasyland, I have always believed in the High Street and truly believe that when we are allowed to go and visit our lovely shops, the local high street will be embraced by consumers as a more endearing place to go than a faceless shopping mall.

Above: Rosie with customers Marie and Graham Pratchett from Marie’s in Tisbury at their wedding last year. “Socialising seems a distant memory for all of us, but I can’t wait to see everyone,” says Rosie.
Above: Rosie with customers Marie and Graham Pratchett from Marie’s in Tisbury at their wedding last year. “Socialising seems a distant memory for all of us, but I can’t wait to see everyone,” says Rosie.

All things that are sent to challenge us makes us stronger; if we didn’t have rough seas we would never need to build stronger boats! Maybe boat building could be my next challenge, now that the garage is tidy! See you on the new crest of the wave. I will be the one wearing a bird box on my head…”

Top: Rosie Trow in a homemade head-dress she made from faux flowers given to her by Tabi Marsh of Papilio at Heritage in Thornbury, one of her customers.

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