How a Sunderland florists is gearing up for reopening with social distancing in place
A popular florists is busy making changes to its site as a range of Sunderland businesses prepare to reopen as lockdown measures are gradually eased.
From June 15, some non-essential shops are able to reopen for business, with the aim to open other trade - such as restaurants, pubs, and bars, as well as hairdressers, barbers, nail bars and related services - by July 4 at the earliest.
Among those aiming for a June 15 opening is Ashbrooke Florists in Queen Alexandra Road, who the Echo has spoken to as part of our #SupportLocal campaign to encourage people to support businesses in the city and boost local trade.
After an initial closure of three weeks following the lockdown announcement in March, Ashbrooke Florists reopened for delivery at the end of April and will finally be able to welcome customers to the shop, with safety measures in place, from Monday.
Owned by Melanie Pickersgill and Michaela Barry, the business sells both flowers and gifts, such as St Eval candles and Parlane homewares.
Michaela said: “We get our flowers direct from Holland and in the first three weeks of lockdown, there was a real struggle with supplies.”
Melanie added: “Holland is the biggest grower in the world and that supply completely dried up at first. But when people started seeing the flower truck outside, we started to get a lot of calls for deliveries. Although the shop was closed to trade, we were still working inside doing funeral work and the phone was non-stop with people wanting to send flowers to loved ones.”
Much of the florist industry’s funeral work is seasonal, but Melanie says there was a definite rise in demand for funeral flowers due to Covid-19 during spring this year.
“Usually the busiest period for that kind of work is January and February, but there was a definite spike that wasn’t related to the usual amount of funeral work you would expect at that time of year,” explained Melanie.
As the business owners prepare to serve customers in person once more, certain measures have been put in place, including a stable door at the main door which they can serve people over, a limit of one customer and one staff member in the shop at a time and a click and collect service where they will bring your order to your car.
Michaela said: “We are still going to focus on the delivery side of the business, and we’ll be putting a lot more of our products, including the home gifts, online as we still feel that’s the best way, but we will have these measures in place for people who want to shop in person.
“We’ve had such positive feedback from our customers, especially on social media as we’ve been putting videos up during lockdown. We have a lot of regulars and they’ve been asking when we’ll reopen. I think this had made a lot of people more appreciative of local businesses.”
From June 15, opening hours at Ashbrooke Florists will be Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday 9am-2pm.