Rasen shops adapt as they prepare for reopening

‘The face of retail has changed’, that is the view of one Rasen business owner as she prepares to welcome back customers this month.
Stitch Witch EMN-200206-101250001Stitch Witch EMN-200206-101250001
Stitch Witch EMN-200206-101250001

Last week, the government announced ‘non-essential’ retail shops could reopen from Monday, June 15, a move welcomed by business owners, including Gail Lee who owns The Stitch Witch in the town’s Union Street.

However, with social distancing measures still in place, there is a lot of planning for traders to do and there are still concerns about the long-term effect the coronavirus will have on the economy.

Gail said: “I have worked hard over the past four years to build up the business - in fact June 21 will be my fourth anniversary.

Gail Lee, owner of the Stitch Witch, is looking forward to welcoming back her customers - but won't be able to hold her popular 'knit and natters' or workshops at the present timeGail Lee, owner of the Stitch Witch, is looking forward to welcoming back her customers - but won't be able to hold her popular 'knit and natters' or workshops at the present time
Gail Lee, owner of the Stitch Witch, is looking forward to welcoming back her customers - but won't be able to hold her popular 'knit and natters' or workshops at the present time

“I hope people will come back to all our local shops, otherwise a lot of us independent businesses won’t be here.”

Gail will be operating a two limit customer system and all customers will be asked to use the hand sanitiser provided before they touch any wool or fabric.

Gail said: “I will still be running my loyalty scheme, but I won’t be able to accept any returns of items.

“I know there will be people still shielding or self isolating, so, while I don’t do online sales, I am happy to arrange a local delivery or arrange appointments for people to come to the shop, just call 01673 849051.”

However, there is one side of Gail’s business that she won’t be able to resume at the moment.

She continued: “I won’t be able to run the regular knit and natter sessions and workshops; these just wouldn’t work under government guidelines.

“I know people will be disappointed as that is a big part of the shop community.

“I will have to think about possible ways of accommodating that side of things going forward.

“I have had chats with Coun Stephen Bunney about the possibilities of using another venue, but I will have to think about that.

“I would like to thank Coun Bunney; he has been hugely supportive and has really stepped up to the mark during this pandemic.”

Market Rasen Mayor John Matthews says support for local businesses is crucial.

He said: ““It has been a very tough 12 weeks for all of us, my business included.

“I am really pleased that we are now in a position for the non-food shops to reopen.

“We must now support our local businesses and keep the economy of our town alive.

“However, we still need to be sensible and diligent, and the town council is planning proper signage to be displayed along the high street to remind people about the constant need for social distancing and not overcrowding in shops.

“The majority of our community has responded very well to lockdown for which I applaud them.

“We must not let all the hardship and patience that has been demonstrated be wasted now.

“Stay safe Market Rasen.”

Coun Stephen Bunney, who is both a town and district councillor, echoed the mayor’s words. He added: “West Lindsey is continuing to support our local independent shops.

“We ask that people observe the social distancing that is still in place and support the shopkeepers with the measures they have had to introduce to follow government guidelines.

“The Town Partnership will also be supporting businesses to ensure there is enough hand sanitiser available for customers to use.”