We're open again! Town's traders welcome back shoppers
- Credit: GRW Photography
Sidmouth traders threw open their doors this week to deliver an emphatic message to shoppers: “We're open! We’re Covid-safe. Come and see us!”
Monday’s easing of lockdown restrictions triggered a flurry of activity as non-essential shops, gyms and hairdressers welcomed customers for the first time in months.
In Sidmouth, traders said there had been a steady stream of shoppers coming back to the town centre. They also reported that shoppers were being sensible and adhering to Covid social distancing guidelines.
Winchester & Sons fruit and veg shop, which has been trading throughout the pandemic, reported that the town was busier this week.
A spokesman said: "There are a lot more people in town, without a doubt. And most people are observing social distancing rules."
Eco-friendly refill shop Fillfull relaunched in Fore Street, Sidmouth, on Monday to coincide with the reopening of high streets up and down the country.
Owner Dan Prince told the Herald: “It is amazing to be back in Sidmouth. I think it is going to be a good summer for all of us in Sidmouth and I am glad to be part of that.”
He said the early signs were that people were “definitely interested” in what Fillfill had to offer.
“People are coming in to see what we have got and are looking at what we do,” Dan added. And they are being cautious, because of the advice on social distancing, which is good to see. They are waiting at the door to make sure there is room in the shop before they come in.”
Debbie Channing, who works in the Sidmouth shop, told the Herald: “We have been fairly busy. I think people have been desperate to get out.
“We have had a lot of good feedback from customers, many of them pleased to see us back in the town. I think lockdown has given people time to think more about the environment, the use of plastics, for example. And that could be good for us.”
Dan established the Fillfull business in 2018 in Ottery St Mary and has been, as he put it, “helping the good people of Ottery on their journey to living a more environmentally friendly and sustainable life, ever since”.
He opened his first Sidmouth store in the tiny courtyard of Cross Lane in December 2019. But the onset of the coronavirus pandemic forced him to close the shop.
Dan said: “A refill shop does exactly what it says on the tin – and our older customers will remember this style of shopping from the 1970s and 80s as ‘Scoop and Weigh’.
“We are bringing this back as part of our fight to reduce plastic pollution on this beautiful planet. We’ve all seen the pictures and the documentaries and our shop is a place to come to start to feel like we are actually doing something positive about it. Our products are environmentally friendly. We aim to have as small and gentle a footprint as possible.
“You can bring your own containers to refill your supplies of dried foods – nuts, lentils, flours, sugars, pastas, dried fruit, herbs and spices, loose leaf tea and coffee.”
East Devon District Council is helping local traders like Fillfull welcome back shoppers in a safe way. It launched a #StayLocalShopSafe campaign to emphasise the value of shopping locally.
In East Devon, the Reopening of the High Streets programme is supporting a district wide media campaign, #StayLocalShopSafe, to inform residents and visitors about how to use their high streets and town centres safely and showcasing how local businesses are responding to the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic by adapting, evolving and reaching out to their community, offering safe and responsive ways to access the goods and services that they need.
East Devon District Council chief executive Mark Williams said: “We are delighted to see the reopening of our high streets. Retailers in East Devon have worked incredibly hard during the lockdown to create Covid-secure shopping experiences so products and services can be accessed safely. We are now calling on local residents to rediscover their high street, remain local and stay safe whilst also supporting the great independent businesses on offer.”