Business owners make plea for continued support from locals as lockdown eases

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Michelle said what set her business apart from supermarkets and bigger national chains was the personal service it offers.

She added: “Also, our flowers are so fresh. If people haven’t had them before they often comment on how long they last. They are sourced locally, too. We buy alstroemeria from Crosslands Flowers at Walberton and others from Brighton.

“And all the girls I employ are local, so you’re not just supporting a local business, but local people as well.”

Michelle said another of the perks of her shop was that you did not have to queue, like you might at the supermarket,

Speaking about Wick in general, she said: “We did have a good village spirit, and we want to get that back up and running again.

“I’m quite determined to keep my shop going, and to keep providing a service for the community here.”

Just a couple of doors down at It’s a Pet’s Life, Graham Boiling has spent most of his time as the owner dealing with Coronavirus restrictions.

He only took over the business in December, 2019, and said while he had been allowed to stay open and trade, it had been a year featuring ups and downs.

“Because of a shortage in supply, people have been having a job getting hold of certain things, so I think we have had more customers coming to us,” he said.

“Some of them have gone back to the supermarkets, but I think we have retained some of the customers because of the level of personal service we can provide.

“We can provide advice for people and we do free deliveries, which can be useful for people who can’t manage to carry the larger items home.”

Graham said items like bird food had been much more popular during lockdown, making them harder to find and more expensive.

He said he was trying his best not to pass on the price increases to customers, saying it had been ‘difficult’ but he was doing his best.

He added: “We feel the sense of community here in Wick. The town centre feels like a bit of a ghost town, so I think these local shopping parades are even more important.

“Our customers are lovely, and we have lots of local characters who like to pop in.

“Just because we’re a local business, doesn’t mean you will necessarily pay more than a supermarket, so we hope people would give us a try.”

Sue French has been running hairdresser Ikon Hair Design for the last seven years, and had done her best to ‘Covid-proof’ her business.

She said customers could be assured it was very safe in her salon, and that they had all necessary measures in place to ensure people could get their hair done safely.

In doing this, she said it had reduced the number of customers the three stylists at the salon could see each day, but she was hopeful her customers would continue to support her.

She said: “It’s been very difficult, and in my experience Arun District Council weren’t very quick in paying out the grants, so it was tough.

“That’s why we hope people will come and support us and all the shops here. If people come and take a look, there’s almost everything you could need. We look forward to welcoming people in.”