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A Year Since Lockdown - Jeanette Walsh
By Jeanette Walsh, Owner of Truly Scrumptious (Dorset) Ltd. They're a traditional sweet shop, based in Old Town Poole.
March 23rd marks a year since lockdown began and the reality of the pandemic hit the UK. What are your memories of that day?
It was my day off and I had popped into the shop to speak to my staff to see if they had noticed the decline in footfall in Old Town Poole, as I felt it had been quiet over the weekend. I was discussing what would I do if I had to close the shop, then I listened to the address by Boris Johnson that night, and they took any decision away from me as I had to close my shop as I was a non-essential business.
Thinking back, how did you anticipate the way forward for your business over those first few days?
I went into the shop the next morning and locked the door behind me and started taking down all my fresh displays of fudge and specialised confectionery boxing up the stock to keep it fresh, and clearing down my sides, this made me feel very sad as my shop was always open. The street outside my shop was very quiet, and I had hardly seen anyone pass by.
I started thinking about increasing my products on my website, so I started taking some photos and writing a list of what products I needed to add.
I also started thinking about offering local deliveries to customers around Poole & Bournemouth.
What actions did you take to save/change/pivot/support your business?
I increased the products available on my website, I started daily posts on Facebook and Instagram, promoting our local delivery service and our UK wide delivery too and showing different photos of products available. I diverted my shop phone to my mobile so I could personally speak to customers. I also put up notices in my shop window promoting my website too.
Name up to three positive outcomes of the last year for your business?
- An increase in online sales.
- Offering a service to new and existing customers to let their family and friends know they were thinking of them of whilst not being able to see them by sending hampers, sweets, fudge and chocolates.
- Offering a local delivery service.
Name up to three positive outcomes for you personally over the last year?
Keep working on your business, whether it's increasing your presence on social media, increasing your products on your website or thinking of new products to sell.
No matter how lonely it is working alone and sometimes I didn’t know which way to turn due to the volume of orders, never give up keep working hard, as you are bringing happiness to customers by letting their friends and family know they are thinking of them.
Anything is possible if you think about it, think outside the box and keep positive.
What do you most look forward to doing IN BUSINESS as we slowly move out of lockdown?
- Working with my staff again.
- Welcoming our customers back into our shop.
- Welcoming back neighbouring businesses.
What do you most look forward to doing IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE as we slowly move out of lockdown?
- Having a day off.
- Meeting up with family and friends.
- Celebrating my sons wedding.
What are your predictions for business generally in late 2021 into 2022?
I think this summer will be a very busy one with many people taking staycations this should help businesses bounce back.
The holiday season will be longer due to people going on staycations.
Customers will support local businesses more in the coming months.
Name one person who has been a lockdown hero for you over the last year?
My son Alex, he has supported me throughout all the lockdowns and pushed me to think out of the box. He helped me launch my local delivery service, helped me out when I was over run with orders, often working into the evenings. He also gave me the strength to keep on going.
Name one business which has been heroic for you or your community over the last year?
Poole BID, they have supported the local businesses in Old Town Poole, as when we reopened our businesses after the first lockdown, BCP council closed our road to traffic due to ETRO, this we thought would have a negative impact on our businesses. Poole Bid organised meetings with Councillor so we could put our points across, as it arose there was a number of issues that hadn’t been thought about and have continued to chase up the consultation, fingers crossed we should hear what the outcome is soon.
Anything else you’d like to say?
No one could prepare anyone for what we have been through this last year, all I can say is never give up, take a day at a time, and its OK not to be OK.
Find out more about Truly Scrumptious by visiting their website: www.thepinksugarmouse.com
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