Like many cookshops and housewares retailers, Salamander Cookshop in Wimborne consulted members of staff for their views when relaxing Covid-19 restrictions this week. “They want to continue wearing masks when with customers,” states co-owner Ione Crossley. “The screens and hand sanitising station are staying although we will no longer request/remind customers as they come in.”
Ione comments: “Generally our customers have been very considerate and cautious up to now, so we have changed our sign to say: ‘we appreciate you wearing a mask while in the shop’ – which we hope expresses a preference without causing any offence.”
Yesterday (July 19) – aka Freedom Day in England –marked the end of the UK government’s road map to reopening, but Ione emphasises that many changes made at Salamander during the pandemic will stay in place. She reports: “In order to make more space in the shop for customers to be socially distanced, we moved everything around and revamped our displays. We now hold less stock, for example, slightly fewer tools and gadgets: five rather than seven types of garlic crusher!
“We’re using a just in time approach to stock where possible and have fewer counter display units. Everything is less crowded and so it much easier to see. We also extended the counter to create more room to talk to customers two metres away from the till, and this is tremendously helpful.”
The cookshop will continue to offer shopping via zoom, and customers who prefer to shop from home can get in touch via a webform, with replies to queries and order requests within 24 hours. Salamander is continuing to use its website to showcase product ranges and special offers rather than hosting an ecommerce site. Ione summarises: “We offer personal shopping appointments over zoom, and we’ll keep on providing the best possible help, whether customers are in store or browsing from their sofa.”
Ione also acknowledges increased support from local shoppers as a result of the pandemic. “People are tending to shop locally rather than driving to shopping centres. Customers say they want to support us and other local businesses if we’re competitive on price. They don’t want more empty shops.”
Top: Salamander Cookshop in the Dorset market town of Wimborne.