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Shop local: Forest Gate shopkeepers predict ‘nightmare’ for high street ahead of second lockdown

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 November 2020

Jeff and Andie behind the counter at Number 8 Forest Gate Emporium which has been in Sebert Road, Forest Gate, for almost eight years. Picture: Jon King

Jeff and Andie behind the counter at Number 8 Forest Gate Emporium which has been in Sebert Road, Forest Gate, for almost eight years. Picture: Jon King

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The second national lockdown will be “a nightmare” for the high street.

Items on sale include jewellery made by Jeff as well as antiques, fashion and artworks. Picture: Jon KingItems on sale include jewellery made by Jeff as well as antiques, fashion and artworks. Picture: Jon King

That’s the message from Number 8 Forest Gate Emporium’s Andie Mercer who was speaking before the government announced the measure forcing non-essential retail shops to close for four weeks from Thursday.

Andie said: “It’s going to be a nightmare. We work all year for Christmas. We fill the shop as much as possible to get the best out of that period.

“It’s frightening. It’s a catch-22. We need to lock down, but there are people who will lose their jobs.”

But there are ways the community can help.

A fairy necklace made by Jeff who has 43 years worth of experience in the jewellery trade. Picture: Jon KingA fairy necklace made by Jeff who has 43 years worth of experience in the jewellery trade. Picture: Jon King

Many of Number 8’s unique offerings, with items ranging from 10p buttons to diamond rings worth thousands, are available online. It is also possible to become a patron.

Partner Jeff Levy, a jeweller with 43 years experience, added: “I’m losing money every month. But we try our best to keep going because we both enjoy being here. We’re very grateful to the community for supporting us.”

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He said the new lockdown affect a lot of people on the high street. “What we earn in November and December sees us through to March.”

A print by artist James Valentines whose work is on sale at Number 8. Picture: James ValentinesA print by artist James Valentines whose work is on sale at Number 8. Picture: James Valentines

Number 8 in Sebert Road is more than a shop. It is widely recognised as a community hub. Its independent craftspeople exhibit and sell products ideal for gifts, including artwork, antique, fashion, ceramics and jewellery.

Customer Joanne Dean said: “Jeff and Andie are the heart of the community. They’ve got an amazing shop. Everything is unique. It’s a wonderful place, and they are wonderful people.

“There’s a big issue with mental health. People come here, have a coffee and a chat. It’s not just about sales.”

Number 8 received a government grant in the first lockdown while Jeff and Andie agreed a deal with their landlord over the rent. But other bills remain. Both agreed another grant would be needed during a second lockdown.

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Andie, on how optimistic she felt about the future, said: “Not at all. Until they get a vaccine, I just can’t see past it.”

On what it would mean if the business ended, Jeff explained that being over 60 meant he would struggle to find another job.

Follow Number 8 on Twitter
@number8_FG

Visit Patreon.com to become a patron. To browse go to etsy.com


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