The long winter lockdown is over and retail has now been open for nearly three months. We are all happy that we can see our family and have a chatter over coffee with a friend. Unfortunately not everything is as bright and shiny as this lovely summer weather. You might not be aware of it, so let me tell you what your local shops are facing at the moment …

I think that I speak for many quilt shop owners and actually many other small independent retailers. After the third lockdown we reopened with excitement and high hopes and couldn’t wait to welcome you all back through our doors. We were grateful that the government’s grants kept us going through the time we had to keep our doors shut. But now it feels like having the doors shut was the easy part of the battle. One of my fellow quilt shop owners Jayne Maxwell from From Rags to stitches summed it up really well saying: “I feel as though we won the battle but are now losing the race.”

This reopening after the third lockdown has been our toughest yet and speaking to other local businesses, sadly, they are in the same boat as well. Those of us who were lucky and had their online shops as well, managed OK with the online sale. Then came the 12th of April, we were all prepared, with new fresh inspiring stock and ideas! The first week of reopening was great and we were all happy to welcome people back through our doors. But the excitement didn’t last long. It felt like those who were desperate to shop came straight away and then the footfall went lower and lower. Even the online orders dried up.

The impact on our lives, health, friends, jobs, and livelihoods seems irreversible due to this awful pandemic.

Shoppers have flocked to Primark, drinkers have once again returned to bars and restaurants, sadly we little independents seem to be forgotten about. I do understand it’s summer – it’s not a quilting season, but even the hottest summers in the previous years have never been as quiet as this. I understand you all had enough of sewing by now and all you want to do is be out and see your friends and family.

If you are purposely avoiding us till later in the year or even until next year ‘when things will be better’, please bear in mind that that lovely little bricks and mortar shop, or quilt show exhibitor probably will not financially survive until then. We are legally Covid safe, we spent lots of money and effort with all the measures we have had to put in place and we all need your support, in the shape of your feet coming through our doors.

Remember the times we tirelessly pulled one bolt after another to find the perfect match for your project. Or that time we we gave you free advice on a project you were stuck with. Now it’s time to say thank you for beeing there for me and buy a fat quarter just becuase.

Next time you are going out to see your friends, please, spare 5 minutes and stop at your local shop and buy a fat quarter or two. Treat yourself or a friend to a kit or a class. We now need your help more than ever. Otherwise next time you’re looking for the right shade of green we might not be here.

If you managed to read all the way here, I do not want to leave you in the gloomy mood, I know quilters are lovley people and they will step up and support their favourite shops. And as a thank you for reading all the way I’d like to offer you a 10% discount from my own shop oliven.co.uk. I have some nice fabrics, but also my own patterns, kits and now new online video courses if you’d like to learn from the comfort of your home.

Go to oliven.co.uk and use code USEITKEEPIT

Thank you for reading Vendulka from OliVen

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