How our local businesses have coped during lockdown

July 28 2020

Craig, far right, with some of his team, from left to right, Kirsty, Louise and Jazmin.

Craig, far right, with some of his team, from left to right, Kirsty, Louise and Jazmin.
"FOR me, it was very traumatic”, said hair salon owner Craig Anthony speaking to Downend Voice about the impact of lockdown on his business.
“I was worrying how I would cope financially - would I have to shut my business? I had staff to think about and they were relying on me to keep the business open and pay their wages."
“I struggled to get the furlough money back initially and from a business point of view there were times when it was very scary, not knowing if we'd come out the other side.
“Everyone had a different experience of lockdown and as a business owner mine certainly wasn't a walk in the park, although I'm aware that for some people it was actually a positive experience as they got to spend more time at home with their families.”
Craig said: “It felt like we were in some sort of sci-fi film. It's been totally unreal. I honestly thought we'd be closed for three to four weeks maximum yet in the end it was nearly 15 weeks. If we had stayed closed for much longer, I don't know that we would have survived so I was extremely grateful when the announcement came that we could re-open."
Craig, who is in his 30th year of trading in Downend, and his team of five staff welcomed back clients on Saturday, 4 July.
“We've reconfigured the whole salon, we've taken chairs out and moved the reception desk around. We've gone above and beyond what was required.”
The salon now has three to four metre spaces between clients and even boasts a room where anxious and vulnerable customers can book to be seen in a separate area to the rest of the salon with their stylist.
Craig said: “It was lovely to see our customers again. We have actually gained a lot of new customers, which has been amazing.
“It's going well and we've been busy. We are hoping that this will continue and we are trying to do the best we can. We are fully compliant with government advice and are implementing the track and trace system for all of our clients.”
Craig said despite welcoming all his regular and new clients back into the salon he remains cautious and says: “You have to stay on top of everything and we are doing all we can to minimise any risk.” “
Tina Lewis, from the beauty salon The Beauty Spot in Staple Hill, said lockdown had hit staff hard.
“When we were told we had to close we were devastated. All the staff were concerned about how long we would be closed.”
Customers were pleasantly surprised when they returned on July 14, for Tina has used her time off wisely: “We decorated the salon while we were closed and the customers are loving the new salon layout and décor. Our reviews have been really positive.”   
Tina said she was concerned about how the new measures would affect cash flow.
“Treatments now take longer because of the new measures which means less clients and less money.”
This has impacted on her beauty therapists: “All staff were furloughed and are back now, but doing different hours and on less hours, not much less but less. They are, however, glad to be back.
“Most of our customers did manage their treatments themselves but are glad to get them done professionally again as well as for the friendship and chat - it's all part of the service.”
Tina remains optimistic about the salon's future: “I hope and feel we will be okay for moving with the new normal. When I was training in beauty therapy, Aids was just being discovered and as an industry, we had to adapt and we did. We always need to embrace change or get left behind.”
Downend and Frenchay Tennis Club closed on March 23, opening again on May 16 with restrictions in place.
To be as safe as possible, the club was advised to display advisory posters, with players only allowed to play singles using personally marked balls.
Club chairwoman Penny White said: “When the club was advised to close, it brought home the idea that we were in a really serious situation, and, in fact, recreational tennis seemed a less important priority.
“As exercise is so important for mental and physical well-being, it was with much relief when tennis and golf were allowed to restart before many sports.”
The club membership renewal fell during lockdown, with members postponing their rejoining.
Penny said: “The club had installed a Pay & Play system the previous year, so this has actually proved to be most useful as it allows non-members to book a court and generates some extra income.”
At the start of July, the club was allowed to offer some junior coaching in groups of five and adults could play doubles. This month, the club can start running junior holiday camps of groups of seven to eight and adult coaching groups of six.
“It has been quite an anxious time as chairwoman. Initially there was nothing to be done on closing the club, then the correct decisions had to be made to make sure the club was doing everything possible to safeguard the members and the non-members coming to use the courts.Communications have been essential. Thankfully the club has various social media groups to help keep everyone informed and to feel they are still part of a club.”
Social events are not yet allowed but the club is hoping to run adult club nights and competitions from September, which will give members more opportunities to play and meet friends.