It’s been a mad few weeks. Our daily lives have changed, we miss seeing the friendly faces behind our favourite independents. We are sure you do too, so we thought we’d check in.
Not only have they had to adapt their own lifestyle to the new normal, their business has had to change too.
We caught up with James and Lisa from Makers! Normally they run their lovely shop on Abbeydale Road, where you can find all sorts of curiosities, crafts, art and antiques. They make lamps, lampshades, and run design and laser cutting services. Their shop is also home for “Quick Press” art gallery and “Diamonds and Frogs” – a crafty business with a fairytale theme.
What was your initial reaction to lockdown?
High time! We actually closed our shop a week before the Government asked us to, we could see it was the responsible thing to do.
How has your business changed over the past few weeks?
We’ve put a huge amount of effort into making our shop a fascinating place to visit – and we see this experience as a key part of the value we offer. How can you know you want to buy something curious and unique before you see it? So when we shut the shop, we knew that that side of our business would stop completely.
At the same time, we make custom things, and that’s pretty much carried on.
We go into the workshop a couple of days per week, design things, and laser cut crafty, decorative and custom products. One of our new areas of micro-manufacture has been breathing masks – it happens that one of our regular customers deals with air filtration, (we usually laser cut airtight seals for him) and we’ve helped him design and prototype a mask he’s invented, which is currently being assessed for a British Standard.
Crucially, it doesn’t just filter the air you breathe in, it filters the air you breathe out, too. This is a new type of mask – and, who knows, maybe it’ll help save lives!
How do you see the long-term impact on small businesses?
It’s going to be incredibly tough for many local traders – but I’m sure that people will be keen to visit interesting and fun local places after being locked down for many weeks.
What has been your daily coping strategy in these crazy times?
As luck would have it, we moved into a very run-down old house last year, and it needs renovation. When we moved in, it was still classed as a business, not a home! Our long-term plan has been to open a new, bigger workshop in the basement.
So we got working. So far we’ve decorated two rooms, and filled a large skip with debris, plaster, Victorian brickwork and earth. Now we’re getting another one delivered. The way we figure it, some of the income we’ve lost from not running the shop we’ll save on builders! (Sorry guys!)
It’s actually been really fun – but it is a little disconcerting to find ourselves living in a cross between “Escape to The Chateau” and “I am Legend”.
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