Q: Why do you think our readers should support local business?

In recent months we have all discovered how important our local community is, and local businesses are the cornerstones of any community. As well as providing goods or services, they also provide employment, which is essential for a strong economy – something we all need to strive for at the moment. Another aspect is that shopping local often creates relationships between the business and consumer, enhancing the experience and quality of service.

Q: What are you enjoying most about being back open?

Being busy! We have been trading for over a hundred years and even during two world wars we stayed open, so it was devastating to have to close for such a long time. Having said that I think the lockdown showed people how important local businesses are and we have been thrilled to see so many familiar and not so familiar faces in the store.

Q: What has been the toughest challenge for your business over the past 4-5 months?

It has to be the financial strain with lower orders over several weeks. Fortunately, we have a strong website and had quite a few online orders which helped. We also kept a small skeleton staff working in the background, and took the opportunity to stop and take stock, re-decorating large areas of the store and reorganising our warehouse and office areas. Making such a labyrinthine building safe for customers and staff was also a challenge, but we have screens, signs and hand sanitiser where needed and have adapted how we work.

What are you most looking forward to in the future?

The virus being over of course, but we will continue to adapt as necessary. I think this has also highlighted the need to promote more British based manufacturers. We already have quite a few British brands on display, some may not be household names, but it is good to be able to rely on their quality and reliability. And of course this is another way to stimulate our beleaguered economy.