If you scroll through the majority of well-known fashion publications, you will be guaranteed to see a lot of talk about the status of luxury and how they are navigating the current circumstances. What is frequently less spoken about is the progress of “the little guy” – how local high streets are dealing with re-opening and how their consumers are resonating. In the town of Great Dunmow in Essex, independent businesses are opening their doors to an uncertain present with an optimistic outlook. What can be done to salvage the impact of closing local high streets across the country?
“What’s been amazing is the way the town has worked together. There were about 10 of us in the town team, now there are 30 members. As we were about to reopen, all the businesses were helping each other, passing on links and sharing advice.” Alan Stratton speaks proudly of the Great Dunmow Town Team, focussed on promoting local businesses and organisations. Many business owners have heavily invested in PPE precautions, confident in local consumer’s ability to adhere to governmental guidelines. Small fashion brands such as Wardrobe come up against physical setbacks, such as the narrow pathway outside their entrance, not perhaps enabling potential consumers to keep a safe distance. These inconveniences aside, business owners have truly come together to support one another through uncertain times, with each taking an individual set of measures.
One of the reasons men’s and womenswear brand The Shopkeeper Store have been able to keep their chins up is continued interest from passers-by. Owner Ian Johnstone says “It’s been really positive. We have kept things going by keeping our shop window dressed even though the shop wasn’t open. Our regular people have come back, they are excited that the shops are open again and we have some new customers who either discovered us online or found us walking into town. People have enjoyed window shopping”. Others, such as Wardrobe, have proceeded with a carefully curated balance of general opening hours and pre-booked private appointments, with an extended 25% off all summer stock. “It means they have the shop to themselves. We have the door open, but people with appointments take precedence and our customers are keen to do it like that” says owner Nikki Anthony. As a team, many have been helping out and sharing advice, despite still assessing the levels of consumer confidence with extra consideration to the end of the furlough scheme. Some question if the worst of the storm may still be yet to come, but many are in a position to weather through as best as they can.
Sourced excerpts and materials from The Dunmow Broadcast
Photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/@olly