Shop local: Forest Gate shopkeepers predict ‘nightmare’ for high street ahead of second lockdown
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 November 2020
The second national lockdown will be “a nightmare” for the high street.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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