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A Year Since Lockdown - Shenandoah Norman

By Shenandoah Norman, Shop Manager of Lush Swindon. They sell vegetarian and vegan fresh handmade cosmetics.

March 23rd marked a year since lockdown began and the reality of the pandemic hit the UK. What are your memories of that day?

It all seems such a blur now. As part of a community space of shops and as a business Lush decided to close the shop doors in the evening of the 21st March. During the following week I thought about the impact on my staff, when the customers would be able to visit the shop again and the impact on the business as a whole. We wanted to keep everyone safe and I just remember a sense of camaraderie and bravery in my team.

What actions did you take to save/change/pivot/support your business?

Like many other Lush stores up and down the country, we decided it was the safest way to open as a kiosk-style shop to begin with. Safeguarding was a priority and we wanted to ensure the expectations and precautions we had in place worked for everyone. Everyone who’s visited us knows we’re not the largest Lush shop but we are lucky to have windows surrounding us which provides another way to stay visible with our customers.

We reached out to other local businesses to see how we could support each other and made some great partnerships throughout the year. We had to keep evolving the business and consumer needs and introduced an order & collect service, virtual consultations, online events and showcased products without tactile demonstrations.

It was certainly a learning curve but has helped us to adapt to the constant changing retail landscape.

Name up to three positive outcomes of the last year for your business?

  • Building a strong, meaningful connection with our regular customers and the local community.
  • Knowing them by name and truly understanding what they would like to see from us.
  • Realising that myself and my team are more resilient than we gave ourselves credit for.
  • Exploring new ways to create fun & successful virtual events that are more accessible to our customers.

What do you most look forward to doing IN BUSINESS as we slowly move out of lockdown?

Having a safe, busy and successful summer. We have lots of plans that we can’t wait to explore. We hope we will bring some life into the Swindon High Street. Lots of these plans were put on hold in 2020 and we have been busy planning how to make them more accessible and safe for all. We will post updates on our social media channels for anyone interested.

Introducing our customers to all of the fantastic new products that have launched over the past few months online and finally being available in our shop. Working with my team again in the safest way possible. The past year has been hard for everyone and as such a small, close knit team I think we’re all eager to get back to what we do best!

What do you most look forward to doing IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE as we slowly move out of lockdown?

  • Seeing my family & friends and celebrating all that we’ve had to put on hold over the past year
  • Attending music festivals and gigs again
  • Being able to make plans and travel again

What are your predictions for business generally in late 2021 into 2022?

I think consumers will slowly but surely return to the high street, once distancing measures have been lifted and it’s safe to do so. I think short-term we will see more shoppers returning to their local shops rather than travelling far afield.

And long term, tourism will see an uphill spike with the general public more trusting of travelling and visiting new places, which is great for us smaller towns that rely on tourism. I think we’ll also see a big shift in the way retail is experienced. I think there will be an emphasis on genuine, loyal engagement with customers and the local community rather than scripted customer service. Something Lush have been paving the way with for years it will be interesting to see if others will adapt this approach.

Name one business which has been heroic for you or your community over the last year?

We can’t think of just one! We as a team are in awe of the local community of shops and indie businesses that have pulled out all the stops to keep themselves current and in business. The highlight of our lunch breaks is either a stop at Indys Vegan Kitchen for the best grilled sandwiches and sweet treats, and for the finest coffee and vegan donuts grabbing a takeaway coffee from Darkroom Espresso has to be the one stop!

Anything else you’d like to say?

Each and every one of us has had a challenging year and that means something different to us all. Before the pandemic we were proud to provide a safe space for all and we hope to see this sense of community return when we reopen. I’d like to think everyone will be kinder to themselves and to others in future and remembering to take time to find things you enjoy in life. Whether that’s a bubble bath, roller skating or simply re-reading your favourite book in the garden. I can’t wait to see lots of new and returning faces when we reopen and I’m sure my team will happily find you something to make your day that little bit better.

Find out more about Lush HERE!

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