‘A very worrying time’ - Businesses in Gorleston on their lockdown hopes and fears
- Credit: Archant
Businesses have had to acclimatise to a world turned upside down during coronavirus lockdown.
We spoke to five on Gorleston’s High Street to see how they are coping, in their own words.
Richard Routledge, 64, who runs What is Hip, a retro clothing store on the High Street, has shifted some of his business online.
He said: “I’m not one for moaning because what’s the point? We’ve got the government grant, it’s not my holiday money.
“My son has discovered a lot of groups online, so we’re selling online at the moment. We’re selling to America, Mexico, Belgium, Australia, and there are a lot of mod groups up north, in Stoke and Newcastle.
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“They find us through groups online. We’ve been doing a few parcels everyday. It’s not brilliant, we’re taking a bit of money, but it would never be enough to make the shop work.
“It’s not a holiday for us, we’re trying to work this out as best we can.
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“If we hadn’t got the government help we probably wouldn’t go back. It’s going to take a lot to go back the way things were.
“We’re prepared to sit here and wait and see what happens.
“But it’s a shame because Gorleston has quite a thriving High Street.”
Roger Webster, 68, who sells CDs, vinyl and DVDs at his shop Music Lovers, echoed the sentiment.
“It’s a pity because the High Street had been doing quite well.
“The grant we’re all entitled to is very welcome, and was very swiftly done by the council.
“I’m still selling online but not in any major way
“To be honest, it’s the longest holiday I’ve had in 20 years.
“I’m undecided about whether people will rush back or they’ll be careful but it will affect the business we get in summertime.
“Anyone who says they know what’s going to happen is deluded, we’ve just got to be careful.
“I’m going to put a sign in the door, to quote Arnie, ‘I’ll be back’, and so will the dog.”
Patrick Duffy, owner of the Palace Cinema, said that Easter would have been a “very busy period”.
“All the blockbusters have been cancelled, put back, so it should be a very good autumn for films, with week after week of blockbusters,” he said.
“The companies will release the films when it is profitable for them to do so, so I imagine it should be one blockbuster after another.
“I’m making provisions for distancing and putting extra precautions in place to make sure the cinema is absolutely safe for others.
“When we do re-open we’ll only ever take one-third capacity because of distancing and we’ve got thousands of face-masks ready for re-opening.
“Other than the blockbusters, cinemas run on one-third capacity anyway, so that won’t be a problem.”
Kelly Moore, 49, is one three people who run Kracken Bodyart, a tatooist and beautician studio which opened this time last year.
She said: “We’re only a new business, our anniversary would have been May 20, so it’s not great for a first year but a lot of people are in this position.
“We are three self-employed tatooists, a beautician and ear piercer, and none of us have any income until June.
“The grant of £10,000 will keep the shop afloat. It will keep the shop open because it will pay our bills but it’s whether the self-employed people who work there can keep afloat.
“The £10,000 is only going to last a certain amount of time.
“If they do keep [physical distancing restrictions] up until Christmas our business won’t last that long, because £10,000 will only go so far.
“I don’t know how we’re going to get on here. A tattoo is a luxury. When we do go back to work, are people going to even want tattoos?
“We’re certainly worried. How do you social distance from someone you want to tattoo?”
Emma Jarvis, owner of Hair Base, has furloughed her ten staff.
She said: “I’m really worried. Some salons in Ireland and in the US are not going back until July so I am very fearful really to be honest.
“If this is us, I don’t know how long I can survive without any income.
“I hope we can come out of this but it’s going to look very different when we do open up, it will be a whole new business we are going back to.
“It is a very worrying time.
“I picture longer hours, I picture shifts, I picture less people in the door.
“We’re going to have cleaning-time between appointments. To cover PPE, we will have to pass that onto people. I’ve been quoted £61 for 50 disposable masks, but they’ll be gone in a week.
“I’ve got 170 people on a waiting list. We’re going to have to work longer hours to make the same money. It’s going to be harder work.
“If we don’t get back until July, I might have to go to work in a supermarket.
“Hopefully we’ll get some government funding for PPE, but I won’t hold my breath for that.”