Spotlight on Seaham's essential traders in Lockdown 3

From coffee shops offering tasty takeaways on daily walks to traders selling essentials, there’s still a broad range of businesses open in Seaham during Lockdown 3.

Saturday, 30th January 2021, 7:00 am

As part of our ongoing #SupportLocal campaign, we’re visiting local high streets around the area and this week the spotlight falls on Seaham.

The town’s traders have had a difficult 10 months tackling ever-changing restrictions and lockdowns. Unlike Sunderland’s local high streets, it’s a local economy which is boosted by tourism, with many day trippers flocking to its excellent independent coffee shops and cafes pre-Covid.

For many businesses, technology has been key to their survival in testing times.

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Shining the spotlight on traders in Seaham in Lockdown 3

Health food cafe Flamingo opened in Seaham Marina two years ago, but owner Hannah Jackson-Harrison never envisaged half that time would be spent dealing with Covid restrictions.

She adapted by launching an app for ordering in the first Lockdown, as well as investing in takeout packaging, which has helped her to continue trading in line with the varying restrictions, no matter how quickly the changes are introduced.

As well as using the click & collect service online, people can walk up to order Flamingo’s broad range of coffees, cakes, smoothies, breakfasts and brunches.

Hannah said: “I was really excited for my second year in business and never imagined we’d be dealing with this. It’s been a real learning curve and we’ve had to adapt, but the app has worked a treat. We hit the ground running with that and it’s meant when new rules have come in it hasn’t affected us as much."

Flamingo Cafe owner Hannah Jackson-Harrison. People can pre-order for click and collect through the cafe's app and website

An outdoor area has also been ideal, with people not being able to mix indoors.

Flamingo is open Wednesday to Friday from 10am to 2pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 3pm and although there’s no day trippers in Lockdown, Hannah says they’ve welcomed some new local faces.

"We have our regulars, but we have lost a few customers because of the restrictions and people not being able to travel outside of their area,” she explained. “But because we all have to stay local, it’s also pushed people to try more things on their doorstep and we’ve met some new faces from Seaham which is great.”

Church Street, Seaham during lockdown 3.

Utilising the internet has also been a vital part of The Little Refill Shop’s business plan in Lockdown.

The zero waste store in Adelaide Row offers cupboard staples, herbs and spices, household cleaning products and toiletries without plastic. During the first Lockdown, the business teamed up with ShopAppy.com, a one-stop shop website with a host of local businesses all on one site, so that people could easily place orders of their products for delivery. It’s a system that’s worked well and they still regularly deliver across SR1, SR2, SR3, SR4 and SR7.

As it serves essentials, the shop itself is still open but co-owner Angela Scrafton says the website has introduced them to a wider audience.

"We didn’t have a website, so using the ShopAppy platform has been ideal for us,” she explained. “A website is probably something we would have looked at doing in a few years, but the pandemic has accelerated that.

The Little Refill Shop owner Angela Scrafton on Adelaide Row, Seaham, during lockdown 3.

"There are some of our regular customers who order online who have never even been in the shop.”

She added: “There are certainly a lot of people making more of an effort to shop local, they realise that if they don’t those businesses won’t be there anymore.”

Technology, however, hasn’t necessarily been a help for some of the town’s more traditional businesses.

Elves fruit and veg has been serving on Church Street for nearly 36 years. During the first Lockdown they proved popular with fruit and veg box deliveries, but with the likes of Amazon teaming up with supermarkets to offer such a service, it’s led to their delivery orders dropping in the third Lockdown.

As well as a huge range of fruit and veg, they sell wools and sweets and they’re hoping people will remember them when doing their shopping.

Lee Elves is the third generation of his family to work in the store. Speaking about trading in Lockdown, he said: "This year has been horrendous because you just don’t know where you are from one week to the next.

The Little Refill Shop sells a whole variety of cupboard essentials

"Church Street has good footfall when the weather is good, but when the weather is bad it’s very quiet. It’s so important to keep local streets like this afloat as they’re part of the community.

"Supermarkets are so hectic, with everyone on top of you, but in your local shops you can social distance much more easily and we hope people will remember that we’re still here.”

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Elves on Church Street, Seaham during lockdown 3.
Elves sells essentials such as fruit and veg, but also sells wools and sewing goods
Church Street, Seaham during lockdown 3.