With lockdown easing (apart from in Manchester, Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire, of course), the flexi-furloughing scheme in operation and more of the greeting card community now back to work, PG Buzz checked in Aga Gabrysiak, Co-Owner of Highworth Emporium in Highworth to get her take on how the ‘new normal’ is panning out and what she thinks it ‘tastes’ like.
What is new ‘now’ like for you and Highworth Emporium?
“We think the biggest point is how ‘Shop Local’ has taken a big step forward. We have been singing that message for a while, but the feedback and support seems much stronger than before. Prior to lockdown people took their local shops for granted, just expecting them to be there. Now, the message from customers is they appreciate us. Customers seem more patient and are happy to sanitise and wear masks.”
What positive stuff has come out of this period?
“There have been plenty of good wishes since we re-opened. We received flowers and have had a lot of people just popping their head round the corner to say “Hi!” We have had lots of local support for our new website www.highworthemporium.co.uk.
With flexible trading terms and low carriage paid order values we think most companies have been wonderful. Some companies went above and beyond during lockdown. To mention a few, Jonny Javelin, UKG, Woodmansterne and Ling have been great and have probably secured a bit more business because they were available.
Going back to the start of this all, the Government support for the High Street was extraordinary, full marks from our perspective.”
How do you reckon will things pan out?
“Based on the what has happened since we re-opened, providing there is no second spike our outlook is positive. The biggest challenge we see is Christmas and special events where customers usually cram into the shop. With our ‘click & collect’ and delivery service added to our support portfolio, we are feeling confident about the future. A lot will change once a vaccine is available or if the virus just goes away.”
What would you say is the taste of the ‘new normal’?
“Definitely a lemon! It has many values, looks quite good, but overall there is a slightly sour taste!”
Top: Highworth Emporium makes the most of its lovely setting in the Wiltshire market town.