Market town traders ‘look forward to seeing you’ as shops open again next week
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Business owners in Beccles and Bungay say they look forward to welcoming back customers and kick starting the local economy as nonessential shops begin to re-open.
From Monday, June 15, nonessential shops will be allowed to once again open their doors for business.
However some traders have warned “it is too early” to begin trading again, although the majority of shop owners say they are raring to start doing business again.
But who will be open, and what changes have been made to ensure socially distanced shopping can be done?
Bell’s of Suffolk, Earsham Street, Bungay
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“We’re looking forward to opening, it’s been such a long time and we have put measures in place to keep people safe,” said store owner Jackie Bell.
“We have screens and hand sanitiser, and we have rearranged the store floor so there is better flow, plus we will have a five customer maximum capacity.”
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The furniture store said lockdown has been difficult for the business despite receiving the business relief grant.
“My staff have been on furlough, and it’s a bit of an unknown as to how busy we will be, so for the first few weeks I will run the store on my own,” Mrs Bell said.
“My biggest worry is whether people will come out, as people have been shielding, and we’re a shop that people tend to come in to browse.”
Mrs Bell added that she was concerned about the impact on the town as a whole.
“Smaller shops with one-in-one-out schemes will cause big queues on pavements, and we need people to be safe outside.”
Beccles Books, Exchange Square
The well-loved book store has said they have moved everything around and set up a one-way system which will see them open every day apart from Wednesdays starting next week.
“It’ll be great to have customers again, we’ve just ticked over with trading online, but we need more business,” said store owner Lee Mason.
“I want people to bear with us in these weeks as we do the best we can and continue to learn as everyone else is. The guidance is sometimes vague and we want to make sure we’re safe.”
Mr Mason added: “I am on the fence about reopening, as I’d like more support but I am worried of a second wave. There’s just nothing I can do about it as the government grant was not enough.”
Sew and So’s, Upper Olland Street, Bungay:
The popular fabric store said lockdown has been difficult but they will not be opening from Monday and may remain closed for several weeks, as they are shielding a vulnerable person.
“We also tend to have elderly customers and we need to take responsibility for them, another few weeks will help. Any customers should continue calling or ordering online if they want to support our local business,” said store owner Beryl Hyndes.
Blyburgate Antiques, Beccles
Store owner Kate Lee said: “We’re feeling positive about reopening on Monday, though we will do reduced hours of 11am-3pm from Thursday to Saturday. We will only allow one person in at a time, or families, unless appointments are made.
“I think everyone has been really sensible and followed the rules and guidelines, and it will be good to open.”
Beccles Sewing and Handicrafts, Blyburgate
Owners Sue and Steve Taylor will be reopening their store with regular hours, after having installed protective screens.
“We just don’t know if people will come out and spend. So it will just be me and my husband working to gauge how busy it is,” Sue Taylor said.
“It’s unfamiliar territory to us all, but we look forward to seeing people just to say hello. I think a lot of people are sick of their four walls.”
Why we are asking readers to Love Local
The high street provides the heartbeat of our communities.
They are the places where we see friendly faces, and feel the energy of other people around us. It’s an energy many of us have missed during lockdown.
But when we think about our relationship with the high street, we often think about us supporting them - by spending our money there, and being loyal customers.
By what about how the high streets of Beccles and Bungay have supported us?
They’ve made a place for us to meet friends, have coffee, share lunch, and a convenient place to pick up essentials and treats alike.
Independent traders have for years taken financial risks, and battled the ups and downs of a volatile retail sector.
This terrible coronavirus has hit us all in so many ways.
For these businesses, who have given so much to towns, it’s put them on a knife edge.
That’s why the Journal is calling on all readers to think independent, and Love Local.
It’s a simple plea - next time you head to the shops, try and support an independent trader.
They need you now, more than ever.
Andrew Fitchett, editor