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Solidarity solid in Rangiora

Having an online presence was the game-changer for retailers in Rangiora during the Level 4 lockdown, and now it is the community support which is warming the hearts of the town’s small business owners.

I’Adore Homeware and Gifts’ Ashe Grice said last December she had agonised over the amount of time she had put into establishing a website for their Durham St business. Together with Debbie Grice this popular mother-and-daughter combination offer a collaboration of homewares, gifts, natural lifestyle and skincare products.

“While I was doing it, I kept saying to Debbie that I really hoped it would pay off,” Ashe said.

“And, it did…in spades. Because, without the website we wouldn’t have had any cashflow.”

Ashe estimates that before lockdown they were doing 20% of their sales online. When the government guillotine fell, the website sales jumped exponentially, and continued to give them critical cashflow throughout the pandemic.

“Also Mother’s Day was in amongst the lockdown, and there were so many people who seemed to be becoming so conscious about supporting local businesses.

“From Level 3, we were offering free contact-less delivery in Rangiora and Cust, and I think people really appreciated that.”

She said Covid-19 had highlighted for customers how many local businesses also offered online sales, but also how vital local business was.

“We have honestly been amazed by the support from the community. We’ve not only had people say that they would usually go to Christchurch to get this or that, but they have either been visiting our online service, or coming into our store to see what we have first.”

Ashe’s final message is an acknowledgement of their customers.

“We so appreciate the support and everyone’s kind words, and we really value that sometimes people haven’t come into buy anything, they’ve just come in to check how we’re doing. It’s been really awesome.”

New owner takes over at Lockdown

For Rangiora Shoe Lines new owner Rebecca Barker, the timing of the Level 4 lockdown was tough. She took over the business on June 1 from the town’s well-known duo of Sandra Blackadder and Jill May.

The shop’s online presence is through a third party, but shoes didn’t qualify early on as “essential”. She had already tabled her order for summer shoes, and her winter collection was on the shelves.

“We’ve come out of it by keeping in touch with people through Facebook,” Rebecca said.

“And, we’ve been not just advertised shoes, we’re also advertising good feelings and just being here for people. Quite a few people have come in since the lockdown lifted, just to sit down and have a chat with us.”

Rebecca has been able to keep her staff, Linda McDonald and Debby Heard. In addition, Sandra and Jill are still in the wings in support, and Rebecca says she cannot imagine her life without them in it.”

And, she has been grateful that the community has wrapped itself around her.

“I’ve really felt that support, especially because I’m new. Everyone has been so welcoming, kind and generous, that it’s been wonderful.

“Regarding business, of course it has been a little worrying, but I am a positive person. The community really wanted this shoe store to stay open, and Sandra and Jill went through earthquakes and having the main street shut down for an extended period.

“It’s important to keep everything in perspective.”

Fashion forward

For Robe Boutique’s owner Rachel Hobson she said they had tabled strong online sales over the lockdown.

“We’ve always had a really good website, and it helped us keep our staff on and pay the rent,” Rachel said.

“And, since we’ve re-opened, the amount of people who have said they want to shop local is huge. They want shops in the area, and they don’t want to go to town.”

The store is enjoying welcoming its customers back who like to “touch, feel, and try”.

What they are saying...