AS non-essential shops prepare to open in Wales on Monday, we spoke to some local traders across Penarth about how they are getting ready.
A year of coronavirus regulations and restrictions have meant that many changes and adaptations have had to take place. In-store purchases were for the most part out of bounds for most shops, and many local businesses took to online selling.
And, having been closed since before Christmas, local traders are looking forward to re-opening next week.
Craig Parker-Trott, co-owner of Apothecary64, began utilising social media to advertise his home fragrance store when the country went into its first lockdown last year.
“We really pushed the online work,” he said.
“However, it’s an experience in this shop and you can’t smell fragrances online. We’d get lots of messages about what things smell like.
“Words don’t really depict fragrances. But we do what we can to keep going and afloat.
“The people of Penarth have been brilliant and supportive.”
In the run up to Christmas, before Wales was put into lockdown again on December 20, Mr Parker-Trott says the business had a “storming week.”
However, a lot of stock was made that couldn’t be sold in the remaining days before Christmas.
“It was just heart-breaking,” he added.
However, this week, with a date finally confirmed, he is busy making candle refills and room sprays and is “looking forward” to Monday.
“I’m excited to finally have a date. People are itching to get back to some kind of normality.”
Julian Parket-Trott, co-owner of Apothecary64 and Florist64, said this past year has been the busiest year he’s ever had for Florist64, despite wedding cancellations and continuous lockdowns.
He added that last years Mother’s Day was the best the business has ever had, due to lockdown happening that weekend and people rushing to get orders in.
However, the business was also set to provide for many weddings, as far as Swansea, Cotswold, and Birmingham, but all were cancelled.
Having a large online presence has helped the businesses, and he said the only way he could handle the volume of work coming in from online orders was because the shop was shut.
Speaking on the reopening on Monday, he says: “I know I’ll be busy; I was before lockdown.
“But now it’s a case of getting a balance. I still have the same passion [for floristry] as I did when I was 20, I’m 52 now.”
Both Apothecary64 and Florist64 will be complying with Covid-19 guidelines, such as face masks when shopping in-store, only having a maximum number of customers in at a time and signs.
Zero Penarth, owned by Alexander Pearson and Deborah Thorne, had not long opened when the December 20 lockdown happened.
Speaking on the lockdown, co-owner Mr Pearson said: “It’s been okay, ticking over comfortably.
“It was a little bit frustrating as we wanted to get things up and running a bit quicker.”
The shop has everything underway for reopening on Monday, including training new staff which Mr Pearson says he is “looking forward to.”
The business kept going by doing collections with regular customers and were able to advertise themselves on the ShopAppy Penarth website – with their own one coming soon.
“It’s so nice to actually get things open and moving,” he added.
“People working from home locally also want to escape and shop locally.
“It’s a lot about the experience. It’s an enjoyable and relaxing experience.”
Griffin Books have been keeping themselves going by offering virtual events to the public, as well as free ‘Storytime Live’ events on their Facebook page for the little ones.
Owner, Mel Griffin, said: “It’s been an incredibly challenging year for independent businesses, with constantly changing restrictions, periods of closure, and at times, interruptions in the supply chain.
“But we’ve thrown ourselves into it, doing our absolute best to adapt and keep on supplying our lovely customers with books and the opportunity to meet some of their favourite authors – via Zoom of course.
“We are really looking forward to welcoming customers back into the shop, because with the best will in the world it’s impossible to replicate online the experience of browsing our shelves!
“Of course, some people will still be nervous about visiting, but we’ll be making it as safe and comfortable an experience as we possibly can.
“Our challenge in the year ahead, as we move back towards some kind of normality, will be to preserve the positive things that have come out of lockdown for Griffin Books while at the same time reverting to ‘normal’ mode within the physical shop.
“We’ll be aiming to continue selling online and ensuring greater accessibility of author events by making them available online as well as providing an in-person experience.
“All in all we’re excited by what lies ahead!”
The Queen B Boutique, on Stanwell Road, will be opening on April 12 with their casual boutique section on a walk-in basis and their occasion wear section by appointment only.
Rowley’s the Jewellers, one of Penarth’s oldest businesses, is preparing for reopening. Owner Petra Aydin-Barberini is eager to put customers at ease.
“Our priority is to make the customers feel safe. We have a one-way system, ‘in’ and ‘out’ doors with good ventilation and plenty of room around counters in both our shops.
“You can still use telephone click and collect and our websites to shop online with free local delivery. We will be running a private appointment systems for those special purchases that need more time.
“If customers have any worries, we can find a way to accommodate them including with socially distanced, doorstop visits to choose products. If there’s one thing we’ve learned through lock-down it’s that independent family businesses are great at finding new flexible ways to help their customers.”
Hamptons on Ludlow Lane and Shore on The Esplanade will be reopening on Tuesday, April 13 – with Hamptons having undergone recent renovations.
Karen from Umpa Lumpa Sweet Shop in Penarth says: “Thanks for your support.
“The team at Umpa Lumpa sweet shop is excited to welcome back our customers into a safe but fun environment!
“It will be lovely to hear the chatter and hustle and bustle in Windsor Arcade.”
Nia Hollins from Vale of Glamorgan Council, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on all our lives, but for our nation’s high streets it has been devastating.
“Independently run businesses are completely reliant on your support in order to survive – without that our high streets will never recover. As non-essential retailers reopen next week, we’re asking locals to throw their full support behind our vital high streets.
“Whether you’re shopping for something big or small, everything helps. Please show your support and think local, they need you now more than ever.”