'You have to give it a shot' - Fakenham businesses look to post-Covid world
- Credit: Aaron McMillan
For businesses, the last 15 months have been fraught with difficulty and uncertainty.
Furloughing, PPE and click-and-collect have all become familiar terms as traders have had to adapt - as have customers.
But, with vaccinations being rolled out and the roadmap allowing most businesses to reopen, there are fresh shoots of recovery all around.
Many have also used the pandemic as a chance to take the plunge and open their own business and for them, the end of the pandemic is a completely fresh start.
Our reporter Aaron McMillan spoke to Fakenham businesses about what the future holds.
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Crafty Ones, Norwich Street.
Alice Scourfield started up Crafty Ones after lockdown meant her hairdressing came to a stop.
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The shop hosts the best arts and crafts from local producers, and the chance of getting it off the ground was just too good to miss.
“I know a lot of the town's people and everyone is saying that no one is coming to Fakenham anymore," she said.
“We need more people to come to Fakenham otherwise more businesses are going to close, and there's going to be nothing left.
“That would be a real shame because it's a really beautiful town.
“If you know you can do something like this, why not. I wouldn't say I have the money but I’ve got the resources and have the passion for it, so why not.
“I think I would regret not doing it more than I would regret doing it and failing. I think you've got to give it a shot.”
Special Moments, Millers Walk.
Nigel Maidstone, has owned card and gift shop, Special Moments, for 29 years.
After reopening, he said he felt quite ‘flat’ due to falling out of the flow of day-to-day business. However, he now feels better and thinks things are looking up.
“It was that real lack of continuation that made it hard because you'd lost four months of continuity, whereas you see things change in the business and when they are changing, you can pick up the changes, drop things, and add things.
“When I first came back I felt extremely flat, whereas now I come in with a positive attitude where initially it was just coming in, whereas now you feel ready to do and more in tune to what you're doing.”
Pets Paradise, Hempton Road business park.
Siven Cook opened Pets Paradise on Fakenham’s Hempton Road Business Park on May 1, selling everything from pet supplies, to reptiles and tropical fish.
Despite the nerve-wracking feeling before opening, he feels that he has found his feet.
“It's been a bit of a rollercoaster. We have some issues with stock, but that has actually given me the chance to find my feet.
“My main concern before opening was the convenience of online shopping that we've all been used to over the last year, but the amount of people that have said they'd rather shop local, rather than online has really surprised me in the best way possible.
“What I found really nice was actually speaking and seeing so many different people, I think over the last year, not being able to go out and see everybody, and have that normal social life was no fun.
"But now I get to enjoy speaking to people who are as passionate about animals as I am.”
Get Smart, Bridge Street.
For Ann Bush, lockdown posed one of the most difficult scenarios in her 30 years of owning the her town centre clothes shop.
The closure threw up challenges, but now the future is looking a lot better for them.
“It was quite worrying that you had stock ordered six months ago rolling in between February and March and then to get closed down with the pandemic and we could not cancel the orders.
“I had to make the decision not to order winter stock later that year and I am so glad I didn’t because we got shut down again.
“But the closure allowed us to give the shop a good spring clean, and get it painted and decorated.
“When we finally opened on April 12 I was very apprehensive that no one would want to shop, but I must say it has been amazing. We have been really busy with our lovely customers both old and new.”