As you probably know, we are soon opening our first little Gladys & George boutique on the high Street in our local town of Mildenhall, in Suffolk.
Some people when I excitedly tell them of our plans to set up in our solid bricks and mortar retail home, meet me with looks of bewilderment to why I would risk doing such a thing.
I can almost see them thinking 'Ooo! That's a bit risky, setting up a shop when so many are closing, she must be mad' What they actually say to me instead is ' Ah well, good luck I hope it works out for you' followed with a sympathetic but encouraging nod.
Don't get me wrong, the high street has suffered tremendously over the last year, and I guess it is also true that pre covid our beloved high street retailers were fighting for survival to keep relevant to their once loyal customer.
It's dog eat dog out there in the world of retail as many once great businesses have ceased trading over recent years, or have been bought out by the likes of Asos or Boohoo to only be used as an online trading tool. It is sad, and many trusted staff have lost their jobs, sometimes having worked for a company for years.
So, what did make me want to set up my own business in these unprecedented times? Am I indeed mad, like many think? #shewhodareswins
Well, after working in fashion retail for independent businesses for many years, I have realised this.
The great British high street is certainly not dead. Far from it in fact.
Since non essential retail opened up once again after the last lock down, I have chatted to many customers to get their perspective on things. I have spoken to ladies who have professed that they have forgotten how to shop, they don't know what suits them anymore or indeed what they want to buy.
Some customers, although apprehensive are mostly thrilled to be able to once again have the chance to escape their homes and see what the new season beholds.
They want to socialise with assistants who can also give them expert advice on products. They want to touch and feel what they are buying, and most importantly of all, they want to support their local businesses. #supportlocal #supportlocalbusiness #shoplocal
During the past lock down's we have spent the year staying in our local community, we have been buying our meat from the town butcher, ordering our favourite meal from the local restaurant's collection service. We have been supporting our local businesses, because we care and we want them to be around for us long after covid restrictions loosen.
We have simply adapted as consumers and suddenly realised that we have some truly great businesses out there, right on our doorstep.
So, I repeat the high street is not dead. In fact she's about to have a shiny new make over with fresh pop up stores and people, like me, that are willing to take a risk!
If we support our local businesses, we not only help our independent shops, cafes & restaurants, but we build & maintain the community around us, and that is well worth supporting in my eyes.