We have been open now for nearly 5 weeks, having been completely shut for almost 3 months. ~We are still open on a part-time basis, Thurs/Fri/Sat and also for appointments only on Weds. The appointment days are for those who have to be extra careful or are a bit nervous about being around other people. Most days have been busy and we have had 3 or 4 times the usual number of sewing machines dropped off for servicing than we would usually have had. A good indication that they are being used!
We have put the necessary protective things in place, screen round the till, hand sanitizer and vinyl gloves available etc. The staff have masks and visors to use when they feel the need. We are making sure we wash our hands much more regularly than usual and so far we are ok. It has not been compulsory for customers to wear masks yet but we are noticing that more are. It seems that people come in either, masked up, follow the direction signs/arrows and ask before touching anything (that’s when we point out the gloves and hand sanitizer. This is so different for us, as being a yarn shop we usually encourage people to squish the yarns, this situation is exactly the opposite!) The rest of those coming in completely ignore any of the arrows or ‘polite signs’ or other safety precautions and just barge in. We do then politely point out the gloves and sanitiser and tell them that we will help if they want to look at any of the stock.
Apart from having forgotten most of the prices while we’ve been away, we have realised that the thing we have missed the most has been talking to our lovely customers, many of whom are regulars. It has been so nice to see them and catch up with what they have been making. We have been sending out regular newsletters throughout lockdown (something we do anyway) and lots of people have commented that they have really enjoyed them and found them interesting and inspiring. We tried to not just make them a ‘selling tool’ but to add links to free patterns, articles we thought would be of interest, how to join in with making scrubs and other ways that they could help. We have noticed an increase in the number of people taking up sewing, which is fantastic. What’s not so good is that we still cannot run our workshops, while maintaining social distancing within our workshop space. We are being asked when we will be running them again but cannot give a definitive answer. We are hoping that things will improve and we will be able to re-start some time in the Autumn, but if the ‘second wave’ happens that is being predicted, we won’t be able to. It makes any planning very hard. Workshops account for a large chunk of our income over the Autumn/Winter period. We are going to have to put our thinking caps on!
Supplies in our industry have not been a problem (except for elastic!) Some deliveries have taken a little longer than usual, but given the amount of boxes the delivery companies are having to deal with, that isn’t surprising! I mentioned elastic, this is in demand by people making masks. I still have some in stock and more on the way but it is in short supply at our suppliers.