If this year has proved anything, it’s that it’s more important than ever to shop local and support our independent stores.
Nicola Gill opened The Flower Room on Yarm High Street back in 2013. She was six months pregnant when lockdown hit.
Nicola was forced to close the shop during what would usually be their busiest time of year, and preparations for reopening in June were complicated by the fact that Nicola was heavily pregnant at the time. ‘Our beautiful little girl arrived the week after we reopened, bringing some joy to these uncertain times,’ she says.
Pandemic aside, Nicola says the lockdown was something of a blessing in disguise. ‘I was six months pregnant, so having a couple of months out of the shop gave me time to rest, and plan for the new way of life both at home and for the business.’
As is the case for many florists, Covid-19 hit the business hard. ‘Most of our weddings have been postponed,’ Nicola continues, ‘along with most of our regular orders for events and office displays, which have been cancelled.’
While some florists were able to keep trading in some way (creating arrangements and dropping them off for clients), Nicola’s decision was more complicated. ‘I decided to stay safe at home until the government gave the green light to say it was safe to get around,’ she recalls – although there were exceptions. ‘I did pop in to create a funeral tribute. The family ordering were having the worst time imaginable with funeral restrictions, and if I could help a little by creating their loved one’s final tribute, then that’s the least I could do.’
Since reopening, she’s had plenty of support. ‘We are still here, and grateful for all of our lovely customers,’ Nicola says. ‘I think people like to try and support their local community and small independent businesses as much as possible – it’s a ‘use them or lose them’ sort of thing. No one wants to see any more shutters or empty premises near where they live.’ It’s also true that local businesses can offer something different to larger chains, and Nicola feels this in particular is important. ‘Strong, independent traders breathe soul and personality into our high streets and towns across the UK,’ she says. ‘There’s no standard way of doing things, no repeat products and a splash of extra creativity in their products and shop displays. I also feel that the small business have that extra bit of care and a personal touch to their service and creations. Every purchase made means so much.’
It’s all things go at The Flower Room when we speak, with Nicola and the team making up autumnal displays and starting to plan and create for Christmas. Their usual wreath making classes are to be replaced with takehome wreath packs instead, and with new initiatives such as home delivery and the new website up and running to browse from home, Nicola is hoping for a good Christmas. ‘We are hoping trade won’t be affected too much,’ Nicola says. ‘However, our shop is usually full of people, so social distancing will no doubt prevent some sales, but we hope people won’t be put off.’
The Flower Room
High Street, Yarm
What other independents should we check out near you?
We have such a gorgeous selection of small shops on our high street. However, I have to say Cloud Cuckoo is one of my favourites when buying for my home or a gift for a loved one.
Yorkshire puddings with Christmas dinner – yes or no?
What’s your favourite Christmas carol?
It’s not a carol but my favourite Christmas song is Rockin’ Robin by Jackson Five. It’s so happy and upbeat.
Best place for a Boxing Day walk?
Cod Beck in Osmotherley has a beautiful walk around the reservoir and through the trees.