08:00PM, Thursday 03 December 2020
Shoppers have been encouraged to support their local businesses in the run-up to Christmas after a tough month of lockdown.
Non-essential stores and food outlets re-openend to the public yesterday (Wednesday) and independent businesses owners in Maidenhead have urged people to shop local in the run-up to Christmas.
“It’s been a very, very difficult year for all business and particularly independent businesses. Footfall has not returned to where it was pre- COVID,” said Steph James, Maidenhead town manager.
“I think its really important that people come back out to our town centre. Businesses are still operating in a COVID-secure way, with social distancing and measures in place to keep people safe.
“It’s time to get out there and support local businesses.”
Though some shops have moved online, it takes ‘an incredible amount of energy’ and some traditional bricks and mortar outlets have been unable to make the transition.
“Online is great, it’s convenient – but shopping in-store is something special,” said James Carey, property manager of the family run Nash & Sons Florist.
“It’s local families and that’s the most important thing. We know the customers and their needs and it makes a difference. If anyone can shop local, I think they should.
“Maidenhead is a market town, and businesses are falling here, there and everywhere. If you don’t use them, you lose them.”
The director of Craft Croop said even a small sale with a independent business makes ‘such a difference’.
Deborah Jones said: “Craft Coop is an umbrella for many very small businesses who are not able to go online. For them, the sale of a single candle can make such a difference – it’s money to buy a school uniform, or a day out for the family. For the big stores, the sale of that one candle is just a drop in the ocean.”
Over at Filling Good, a zero-waste pop-up which recently moved into its own space in the Nicholsons Centre, shopping in person brings the added advantage of a zero-waste solution.
“People don’t want to be creating loads of plastic waste,” said Sophie Ibison, one of the founders of Filling Good. “They like bringing their own containers and taking as much or little as they want.
“It’s a more personal experience, coming to an independent shop. Big chains aren’t as passionate as we are. We are all about community – that’s what Maidenhead is lacking.”
Like many businesses, the shop has gone all out to make the experience as COVID-safe as possible, insisting on hand sanitisation, and cleaning all the dispensers and keypads. It has also gone cashless.
For companies offering meals, local business is also very important. The Gourmet Chicken Company is now based out of The Maiden’s Head, (which will not reopen its doors due to the difficulty of navigating tier 2 restrictions).
Owner Harry Patel said: “I would encourage people to order directly, instead of from these big companies like Deliveroo and Uber Eats. My website is just as easy to order from as one of them and it means the profits stay here.
“I only employ people from the local area, so the longer we’re in business, the longer those people stay employed.”
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