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Following the latest round of lockdown easing, non-essential shops re-opened on 15th June bringing more people back to the town centre. Here, Melksham News talks to a few about how they are coping…
Ali from Total Carpets & Flooring said, “Business has been very good so far. A lot of people have been decorating during lockdown, and now they need some flooring to go with it!
“We are operating with an appointments-only system, and inside the showroom we are following the 2-metre social distancing rule. We also have PPE for staff, hand sanitiser, and we are limiting the number of people in any one area. Our fitters who are visiting people’s homes also wear PPE – and they, as well as all the staff, have had Covid-19 training.
“It’s so important for us all to shop local, especially with the economy like it is. If we don’t support the town, we will lose it. It’s easy to shop online, I do it myself, but now more than ever we need to go out and support our local businesses.”
Christine York from Andy York Photography said, “It’s been surprisingly busy – we’ve been amazed by the support. People have told us that they are glad to see us open. And for us it’s been nice to see people again and have a chat, and meet new people who have moved to the town recently.
“We’re reintegrating ourselves back into the town and it’s been nice to hear that we have been missed.
“We’ve had a few ladies who have been busy cross-stitching during lockdown who are keen to get their work framed and up and on the wall. We’ve got all the necessary signs in place and introduced procedures to keep our customers safe – but most people are already aware about what they need to do.
“It’s important that we shop local to help keep the community of Melksham alive. Melksham is such a supportive place with a great community spirit – now is the time to put this into action.”
Paul Walker from Tile & Bathroom Centre said, “It’s been really good to be back. We’ve had quite a few people come in to see us – trying out the ‘new normal’ of shopping. We don’t have a big shop so we are limiting the number of people who can enter, and we have a screen on our front desk. Customers are happy that we are open – some have been waiting throughout lockdown to deal with maintenance issues, which we can help with – so they are really happy!
“It’s important that we support our local shops and businesses – everybody in the town gives as good a service as the larger national businesses – and what’s great about shopping local is that you always see the same person and can build a rapport with them. We’ve been here for 30 years, three generations of our family have run the business – we want to continue.”
Bluebell Ladieswear said, “Business has been steady and people have been spending, which has been pleasing. We have put all the necessary precautions in place, introduced a personal shopping service for anyone who would prefer to not be around other customers, and we have created a system so that customers can still try on clothes and use our changing rooms.
“If someone tries something on and does not buy it, the piece of clothing goes into quarantine at the back of the stock room for two days. On the third day it is steam cleaned, and on the fourth it returns to the shop floor. The changing rooms are also thoroughly cleaned between use.
“We are also trying to discourage people from touching hangers and clothes on the shop floor by reducing the amount of stock on display. We have one item of each range on display, and customers have to ask for their size, which is all kept in the stock room.”
Kevin Beadle from Wiltshire Framing said, “It’s going okay, I’ve had a few people in – people are coming, slowly but surely. A lot of my customers are elderly, so are staying at home for longer. But I have put in all the necessary procedures to keep customers safe – there are screens and sanitiser available. I am hopeful that we can get back to what trade was like pre-lockdown.
“We are all still here, with safety precautions in place – local businesses can offer a more personalised service compared to the larger retailers. And at Wiltshire Framing I certainly offer a more personalised service.”
Barry Franks at Petstown said, “As an essential service we have been open throughout lockdown, and we have been very well supported. And now that more shops and businesses are beginning to re-open, we need the community to get behind us – now and beyond the pressures caused by Covid-19.
“During lockdown we have seen new customers who do not want to travel visit us, and our more mature customers have been grateful that we have remained open. And we have seen sale of wild bird food and feeders rise, as more people stay at home and enjoy their gardens.
“We have been operating with Covid safety measures for a while now – people can move around the shop using a one-way system, and we made changes to our till area to respect social distancing – and overall the reaction has been positive and people have approached it in a light-hearted way.”
One other business owner said, “We want to be here, but people need to use us or we will have to close – it is as simple as that. We are now playing catch-up after being closed, and we will have to assess where we are in the next two or three weeks. It’s crucial that the community gets behind local businesses.