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Small Shop Owners Open Up About Lockdown and Looking Forward

Small Shop Owners Open Up About Lockdown and Looking Forward

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It’s been a long, difficult slog for small shop owners in London – forced to close doors due to lockdown for several stretches this past year. The tentative date for shops to reopen in England is 12 April, which will still feel too far off for most shop owners who’ve been struggling to keep their businesses alive online.

We spoke with two mums who own small neighbourhood shops that cater to families to find out how they’ve been feeling and what they’re looking forward to as Covid-related restrictions ease.

 

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Anah Parker-Dean, owner of WORD store in Walthamstow

 

How has business been in the current lockdown?

There was so much hope pinned on 2021, and the end of 2020 and to find out that we were going to be shut for the foreseeable was definitely very daunting.. Especially with a 4 year old and 1 year old at home.

But I’ve been so lucky that the amazing Walthamstow community (and surrounding boroughs) have been so supportive of WORD throughout the Covid crisis and totally adapted to buying on line using our local delivery service. I’ve also been sending orders further afield daily of new WORD customers who are supporting small independents at this time and sending gifts for locals to their family members to spread some joy. It has most definitely kept me sane and has kept WORD alive.

How are you?

Tired. Its been a crazy year and feel like I’ve aged ALOT, but with school resuming and childcare in sight for the little one, I feel like time for some headspace is coming.

What has surprised you about owning a shop during lockdown?

The strength of our amazing community and what a difference this can make to your moral and really keep you going through tough times, it is so true that when you shop small an actual person does a happy dance!

I have totally felt the love and solidarity and it has really kept me going through some tough days.

What’s been your best-selling item?

The WORD Collective Stay Home Club charity tee and sweat collection. A fundraising collection me and my mama friends worked on to raise much needed funds for NHS charities together and Waltham Forest baby bank. We managed to raise nearly £2000 across both charities with the support of the amazing WORD customers.

New baby gifts, I’ve written so many happy (and sad) messages on behalf of friends and family to new parents and lovingly wrapped gifts to send on their behalf. It’s been pretty special to be apart of their journey.

 

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What’s been the hardest part?

Not been able to see our parents (exiled Northerners) whilst juggling the business, home-schooling our 4 year old, trying to give our our new baby who was 3 months old at the start of the pandemic and is now 15 months everything he needs, and my husband trying to work full time from home.  With every lockdown comes a lot of adapting for the business and each time we reopen the same, juggling this around the boys being at home with no childcare support has been hard, there’s been a lot of late nights but the end is in sight.

How do you feel about the reopening date and what are you most looking forward to?

Its been so amazing to actually have the date to look forward to, and to be able to plan for. I think I’ve found this lockdown hard not having any time frames. I’m a planner. I trade the business very tightly and not having a date has made it so difficult to plan buying for.

I’m so looking forward to summer, to having the doors at WORD wide open and to see so many familiar faces and see our community mama meeting space come alive again full of glorious treats for themselves and their families.

WORD
36 Orford Road
London
E17 9NJ
Website / Instagram

 

 

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Charlotte Denn, owner of What Mother Made shops in Hackney

 

How has business been in the current lockdown?

It’s been ticking along online but having the shops shut is really tough.

How are you?

I am coping. I have three children so finding a new routine with managing home-schooling alongside work was tough at first, but I didn’t want to let them down so I stepped away from the business and worked part time.

All of my staff were on furlough so January was hard, I was pulled in a lot of directions. There is light at the end of the tunnel now though.

What has surprised you about owning a shop during lockdown?

The support of customers online and people’s empathy. I was blown away by the well wishes and support that has been shown to me during lockdown by our local residents.

 

 

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What’s been your best-selling item?

Online it’s been the new adult pieces in the collection – either the gingham ruffle blouse or the wool check coat.

What’s been the hardest part?

I had a really low point in mid-January. I couldn’t pick myself up and felt really sad. But I’ve been lucky to have a very supportive husband and children around me to keep me going. I also had to design a new collection so that kept me busy. I did find it hard to be inspired but I’m really pleased with the New SS21 collection and can’t wait to show it off in person!

How do you feel about the reopening date and what are you most looking forward to?

I was a little surprised that we couldn’t open until mid April, but it was just so good to have a date to work towards. We are busy sewing , cleaning and sourcing new stock so we will be ready to open and welcome you with open arms (at a social distance of course!)

What Mother Made
166 Stoke Newington Church Street
London
N16 0JL
&
192 Well Street
London
E9 6QT
Website / Instagram

 

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