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‘Couch sheets’, sneeze screens, and special offers: What to expect when non-essential shops reopen

PUBLISHED: 11:01 12 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:05 12 June 2020

Gold & Silver Exchange Great Yarmouth Adam Birch owner is looking forward to trading again now lock down has lifted. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Gold & Silver Exchange Great Yarmouth Adam Birch owner is looking forward to trading again now lock down has lifted. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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With days to go until non-essential shops can reopen, high street stalwarts say they are looking forward to serving customers again.

Great Yarmouth town centre. Market place, shops reopening as lock down is lifted. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANGreat Yarmouth town centre. Market place, shops reopening as lock down is lifted. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

With days to go until non-essential shops can reopen, high street stalwarts say they are looking forward to serving customers again.

Risk-assessments and new ways of working have been put in place as they look to adhere to government guidance on 2m social distancing.

Changes in the way we touch merchandise and browse are likely, but independent stores are hoping they can count on local support.

Normans Furniture Store, Market Place

Great Yarmouth town centre.Market place, shops reopening as lock down is lifted. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANGreat Yarmouth town centre.Market place, shops reopening as lock down is lifted. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

The evergreen store is celebrating a milestone 200 years of trading in Great Yarmouth and remains optimistic.

When lockdown struck it left orders and deliveries in limbo but Yvonne Riseborough, who runs the shop with her sister and cousin, said she couldn’t thank customers enough for their patience and understanding.

Given the size of the showroom social distancing is unlikely to be a problem but hand sanitiser would be available and “couch sheets” provided for anyone trying out a sofa or bed.

“We are cautiously optimistic that people do want to shop again and these are new customers, so that has given us some hope in these scary times,” she said.

NORMANS Furniture Great Yarmouth Market Place Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANNORMANS Furniture Great Yarmouth Market Place Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Just missing out on a £25,000 government grant had been a blow, she added.

The store is continuing a 10pc off offer, launched just before lockdown.

The Gold and Silver Exchange, Theatre Plain

Among those braced to bounce back is Adam Birch of the Gold and Silver Exchange.

NORMANS Furniture Great Yarmouth Market Place set to re open after lock down restrictions lifted. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANNORMANS Furniture Great Yarmouth Market Place set to re open after lock down restrictions lifted. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

The shop in Theatre Plain was started by his father 40 years
ago.

The 45-year-old said small independents like him were best placed to offer a safe service with one-in, one-out regimes easily established.

Before lockdown trade was split between retail and buying gold and silver but to broaden his base he has introduced a buy-back service which has enabled him to open earlier on June 4.

He hopes it will offer a lifeline to people who are suffering financially.

NORMANS Furniture Great Yarmouth Market Place Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANNORMANS Furniture Great Yarmouth Market Place Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

“I’m going to play it by ear,” he said.

“There are quite a few people about in the town now.

“We are a family business. We have very low overheads and there is only myself here.

“It does not cost us a lot of money to be here.

“The internet has killed a lot of it but with gold you need someone you can trust.

“It is unknown territory. We have been here for 40 years and hope to be here for another 20 at least.”

The Toy Shop, King Street

Another stalwart of the high street that has been bringing pocket money pleasure to children for generations is planning to reopen on June 15.

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Steve Kerrison said he had secured a range of super offers for the first week at least to tempt customers back in store.

During lockdown the business, which also has a store in Norwich, had seen an upsurge in online sales lifted by a click and collect operation.

Even before the order came to close the Yarmouth shop had introduced self-distancing measures including a one way system, plastic shields, masks, and hand sanitiser.

“The important thing is keeping in touch with our customers,” he said. “Which we have been able to do.”

The shop was opened at least 35 years ago, an appearance from Darth Vader clogging up the whole of King Street.

“We will have a lot of new stock that has been coming in during lockdown and some reopening offers,” he added.

Town centre manager Jonathan Newman said people would be “itching to do something different” and hoped June 15 would see the start of a slow, safe recovery.

Hopes are high that lockdown has given people the time and space to rethink their retail choices and support what is on their doorstep.

“At the end of the day we are talking about customer focussed businesses,” he said.

“They are being asked by their customers when they are opening, and they are driving the demand for reopening.

“If anything the last three months have shown us that people do still want to go out and meet up with friends.

“You cannot beat a bit of browsing now and again. It is not the same as flicking through digital pictures on a screen.”

Why we are asking readers to Love Local

The high street provides the heartbeat of our communities.

They are the places where we see friendly faces, and feel the energy of other people around us. It’s an energy many of us have missed during lockdown.

But when we think about our relationship with the high street, we often think about us supporting them - by spending our money there, and being loyal customers.

By what about how the high streets of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston have supported us?

They’ve made a place for us to meet friends, have coffee, share lunch, and a convenient place to pick up essentials and treats alike.

Independent traders have for years taken financial risks, and battled the ups and downs of a volatile retail sector.

This terrible coronavirus has hit us all in so many ways.

For these businesses, who have given so much to towns, it’s put them on a knife edge.

That’s why the Mercury is calling on all readers to think independent, and Love Local.

It’s a simple plea - next time you head to the shops, try and support an independent trader.

They need you now, more than ever.

Andrew Fitchett, editor


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