Shopping after lockdown by Sarah Gray

Your first trip to a clothes shop after lockdown

by Sarah Gray, The Style Confidence Coach

I don’t know about you, but for me, the idea of heading back to a shopping centre or into large clothing stores fills me with all kinds of mixed emotions. On one hand, it would be lovely to do something “normal” but on the other hand, the idea of being herded around a shopping centre like sheep, is not something I particularly want to get involved in.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very pleased that the opening of stores keeps people in much needed jobs and there will be plenty of folks, as we have already seen in the news, who will flock to the larger high street stores.

It’s possible, that because you are on the mailing list for a fabulous independent clothing store, that you might feel the same way as me. We value our local high streets, our local community and our independent stores.

Yes, popping into your local independent boutique will be different - it has to be, given the government guidelines. But, it will be so much less daunting and clinical than the shopping centres or large stores.

Let’s think about the practical side of things as I let you know how I got on visiting Black Diamond Boutique in their first week of opening after lockdown;

* you might have to wait outside a short time while there are maximum numbers of customers already in the shop. But a friendly face will likely pop their head outside to let you know how long this might be. You won’t be standing in a mindless queue with no idea how long you’ll be there. At Black Diamond, the door is open so Sam will easily let you know if numbers are at capacity or if it’s safe to come right on in.

* this is the owner’s livelihood so you can be absolutely sure they have gone above and beyond to ensure cleanliness, your safety, their safety and a pleasant environment in which to shop. It is very clear as soon as you step in side Black Diamond that your safety is priority. On the left hand side as you enter the shop is a wall mounted is a hand sanitiser station - I love this because it is up to you if you would like to use it on the way in/out, there is no enforcement to do so.

* fitting rooms in large stores will be closed which means you may have to get back in that mindless queue another day to return anything that isn’t right for you. However, independents can sanitise the fitting room after each customer so you will have the opportunity to try on as much as you wish. At Black Diamond Boutique, they go one step further…. one fitting room is open and sanitised with wipes between customers and the other one is for keeping the garments which have been tried on…here they will be steamed to sanitise them and left to isolate for the required time before heading back to the rails. Anything that is returned to store, will be quarantined for 72 hours.

* Of course the personal service you receive from your local stores has not dwindled making the shopping experience one of joy rather than a chore. Ask for advice, they are so willing to help and ensure you purchase only what is right for you. As I expected on my visit, Sam is very knowledgable about her stock and the customers I saw who tried clothes on, popped out of the fitting rooms to check her opinion. Fabulous.

* If you are not able to get to your local shops, many are still offering a local delivery service and a mail order service. So, please, do contact them because you don’t have to miss out. Sam and her lovely husband have been delivering locally and mailing orders up and down the UK and out as far as Denmark.

One customer said

“Fabulous service… Samantha’s hubbie personally delivered the most fabulous jumper this morning…”

I know how many of you have become firm friends with Sam from your doorstep which is wonderful.

I truly believe that our high streets are the future of physical retail and as retail expert Mary Portas said just this month, “… there will be less physical retail….” and what we do have “…will be better physical retail…”. In my opinion, it is our independent stores that will provide us with this quality of goods and customer service.

FB: @sarahgraystyling

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