Thrifty Store

Lockdown Update: Thrifty Store/Bal Fashion

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 Bally Johal owner of Thrifty Store (Vintage Clothing) and Bal Fashion Social (Cafe/Bar/NightClub).

What was your initial reaction to lockdown?

Thrifty Store:

Sh@t! WTF! What are we going to do? Hope everyone remains safe and well! Truthfully my daughter wasn’t well and we self isolated and closed two days before the government enforced lock down. We made a business decision and thought it would be a lot safer to do ‘social distancing’ as soon as. 

Although my daughter not being well forced the issue for me – and rightfully we closed our doors till further notice in the interest of public health. 

Sad as it was but it’s given us a good opportunity to assess what we do and how we do it, we  are working hard to deliver a better experience and service to our community and a more socially conscious approach to our operating model. Big changes coming.

Bal Fashions:

Absolutely gutted we had a number of parties lined up with some amazing promoters, artists and performers. It was to be our 3rd Birthday party to boot with Ruff Dug and Apricot Ballroom and guests was going to be amazing! Well, it wasn’t to be and we are just looking forward to getting open again at some point – we are aiming for Sept/Oct. The interesting thing is we just managed after 3 solid years of work to get our full license as a small music venue!! So we are now officially licensed Sun-Thurs 10am-3am next day, and Fri and Sat till 5am so there will be some serious parties when we relaunch 🙏🏽 We have some great announcements incoming.

How has your business changed over the past few weeks?

Thrifty Store:

Closed till further notice, some announcements to follow with respect to launching online. Also; revamp of store and the launch of our basement retail incubator ‘The Bāzār’.

How do you see the long-tern impact on small businesses?

Hmm difficult to say we have lost so much…but we have also, so much to gain. 

In terms of businesses and customers it will be a difficult time for all when we return to normal?! However, my thoughts are around how we assess what this normal is, and what I mean by that is ‘normal doesn’t work’. There’s an opportunity here for us as a community, society to actually really change the way we work and operate. I for one as owner of Thrifty Store and Bal Fashions am looking at how better to serve the communities in which I do business. Also looking at where I spend my money so; independent book store vs. Amazon, Topman vs. Independent retailer, Whetherspoons vs. Independent bar etc where is my money going to do most good? 

Then there’s me, how we operate as a business, what can we do to help nurture grow and enrich the community in which we operate? How can we create opportunity for other entrepreneurs and creatives? We can’t go back to the world of ‘I’m alright jack’, we need a collective security, operating model, a system that is inclusive and offers an affordable alternative to grow and prosper in the communities in which you serve. 

Ironically I have been working on a project which is more relevant now than ever. I will launch when we reopen offering cheap affordable units in our basement; works have already begun. The idea is intrinsic to the building in which we operate ironically, and there is no better time for it to become a reality and that is a retail co-operative that will house and support independent retailers to grow and scale in a safe affordable environment. More to be announced on this but we will be launching a retail incubator called ‘The Bāzār’ and if anyone is interested then please get in touch. 

We wish everyone success in their endeavours coming out of this but  urge people to work together and support each other, cliche but there is strength in numbers and that’s the community we want to work in at Thrifty Store one that works for all.

What has been your daily coping strategy in these crazy times?

Crying 😭, more seriously health is way more important and we will come back bigger and stronger.

Stay up to date during lockdown with our Coronavirus Directory.


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