As we say goodbye to those daily walks to the kitchen, those (god awful) 5k challenges and our Friday night online quiz nights, the UK is slowly but surely working their way to a new normal, N4 included. It’s safe to say it’s been a tough ride for almost everyone during the lockdown period, our beloved restaurants and shops in particular, but with the amazing help from the people of N4 most of us have been able to pull through. As everyone comes out the other side, we’ve decided to learn more about the journey of a few of our favourite stores as they give a very special thanks to the local community.
Stocked with all things pretty and indeed shiny, Pretty Shiny Shop had to close their high street store once lockdown struck. Instead, Georgina utilised her time to improve her online shop brimming with beautiful gifts, cards and treats. You may have seen her buzzing around in her fluorescent orange helmet as she offered local deliveries via her newly acquired electric scooter, working hard to get your orders to you wheely fast (sorry, we couldn’t resist). To make matters worse, Georgina had pulled a ligament at the beginning of April, so the scooter really came in handy as she powered through with local deliveries, and when May rolled around she was also able offer store pick-ups which was a great help alongside online orders.
Aiming to remain as adaptable and as relevant as possible, Pretty Shiny Shop is working to grow their online presence to help increase sales, with the hope that Georgina can bring her staff back off furlough. With shop hours being currently less than before, she’s put on her digital hat and dedicated her “down time” as digital learning time, so make sure to keep a lookout for Pretty Shiny Shop in the digital hemisphere.
Pretty Shiny Shop found that almost all of their online orders were local, meaning that Georgina really felt the support coming from the N4 community. This really backed her drive to keep going, encouraging her to stay focused and not give up.
Georgina tells us that the best thing we can all do is to shop local and keep ourselves safe by using the hand sanitisers and masks to help avoid a second wave. She would also love to hear if there’s anything you would like to see in the shop; with all trade shows (the source of her stock inspiration) being cancelled this year, she’s more than open to input on what you feel she can bring to the neighbourhood.
“I really appreciate the support the community has shown me by ordering online and coming back in person now that we are open. I receive so many positive comments about the shop. It is nice to know that we are appreciated as much as I appreciate my customers!” – Georgina, Pretty Shiny Shop.
Run by a true Finsbury Parker and offering a wide range of beauty treatments for over 15 years, Aquarius Beauty unfortunately had to close the store once the pandemic hit. As the beauty business consisted of ‘hands on’ treatments, offering alternative services during lockdown was a hard one. Instead Yvonne (owner of Aquarius Beauty) focused primarily on increasing the store’s social media presence, making it easier for clients to keep in touch and to provide them with updates regarding the operation of the business.
While there was an initial demand for appointments once the store could reopen, Aquarius are still facing challenges with business having slowed down considerably, seeing as what was usually the busiest time of the year due to holidays, weddings, festivals has now decreased. That being said, Aquarius are now able to offer face and neck treatments and have mentioned they are fortunate to see their regular clients and have had a few new clients.
Yvonne tells us that the community has been brilliant now and during lockdown, having received many messages of support and kind offers of paying in advance for treatments. She also mentioned it was very touching when the clients reached out to help.
Aquarius Beauty have said they would be grateful if clients would get in touch should they need any treatments! They also ask that we spread the word and check out their reviews, and the biggest help they could get right now is for anyone who has experienced their services to write a review on Google (click here to write a review).
“We would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of our clients. Although we didn’t accept payments in advance, it made us feel so valued as our clients wanted to contribute to ensure we would resume operating in these uncertain times. How lucky are we to work with such lovely people!” – Yvonne, Aquarius Beauty.
When lockdown was first announced, our lovely local had to close alongside many other businesses within the community. As time passed and the realisation sunk in that this was going to last a lot longer than originally expected, they decided their business model needed a little, well, remodelling. By reaching out to their suppliers and other sites in the company, they instead launched the White Lion Deli & Bottle shop, where they sold fresh produce, ready meals, dry goods and of course, beer, wine and pre-mix cocktails to be an alternative to the other shops around them. Innovative or what?
They’ve now reopened up the pub, and have since had a surge of trade, so now the real challenge they’re facing is to keep the momentum going.
The White Lion has stated that they couldn’t have got through this lockdown without the local community. Aware that they couldn’t compete price wise with the other big chain supermarkets as they knew that their prices were higher, it was extremely rewarding to see neighbours coming in for a chat and make a few purchases to help out. They had reached out with flyers, banners as well as social media and really pulled in on the local love which helped them a lot through this difficult time.
People make pubs succeed, so all the White Lion asks is that you keep being an amazing neighbourhood and support your local businesses.
“Many many thanks to you all for helping out and helping to keep us as relevant on Stroud Green Road. Come in and say hi anytime.” –Sam, White Lion.
Combining traditional scissor cuts with the latest techniques, Em’s Barbershop is another store that had to close completely during lockdown as unfortunately there’s no online alternative to cutting hair (we’re looking at you Bill Gates…). Not putting any time to waste, Anne and Em tell us they spent their time researching and putting together a plan to open as safely as possible, using inspiration from Germany for their template, as German guidance is much stricter compared to the UK. Em even replaced his scissors with a hammer, rekindling his carpentry skills to hand-make benches so customers can wait outside the shop before their appointment. On a digital scale they also invested in technology, knowing that reopening would mean a mad scramble for appointments, so they put in place an online booking system which has smoothed the process for everyone.
While booked out solidly for the first two weeks, with most of the customers really liking the changes they’ve made, Em’s Barbershop have mentioned that increased costs from the PPE alongside deep cleaning in between clients is still a major challenge that they face now, with decreased income from doing fewer cuts per day. While they’re working as hard as they can to manage in the short term, they’ll need a bit more community assistance as things pull forward.
Em’s Barbershop have told us how touched they were by the reaction of their clients to the closure of the shop. Several of their regulars wrote to ask if they could help out by paying in advance for future haircuts, and while luckily the government grant came through to keep them afloat, it was a real morale boost knowing they had this kind of support from their customers.
Anne mentioned that the main thing customers can do to help, apart from remembering to bring a mask to their appointment, is to plan their haircuts a bit more in advance, looking to book at least a week before they want a cut. Oh and, of course, just to continue being the lovely people that you are.
“We live in the area and throughout lockdown one of the pleasures has been bumping into customers out on their socially distanced walks, showing us their home cuts or overgrown barnets and asking when Em’s Barbershop will be open again. The enthusiasm and offers of support has really kept us going. We want to say a great big thank you for the patience of all our customers on our reopening.” – Anne & Em, Em’s Barber Shop
A taste of Italy in the heart of Finsbury Park, Osteria Tufo continued their service through mostly collection and delivery once lockdown took place. As restrictions eased, they were able to provide table service with a limited menu at reduced prices, with their chef Maria more than happy to accept any special requests. As business gets back on track, Osteria Tufo is now introducing a drinks only service as well as food and drink, with plans to get more outside tables with a glass roof built outside, meaning sun or rain we can still enjoy a refreshing glass (or bottle) of Pinot.
Paola has stressed to us how Osteria Tufo is more than just a business to her. Right now their biggest struggle is to keep the business surviving, making enough money that will pay off all staff and bills and secure the business in case of anymore rainy days.
Osteria Tufo tells us that the community was extremely supportive during the lockdown period, with most orders being local, and that they couldn’t have got through without the orders of the N4 community.
Paola is doing everything they can to adapt their service to make sure customer’s experiences are as enjoyable as possible while obliging by the social distancing measures put in place, so the best thing to do would be to go out and enjoy their great tasting Italian cuisine when you get a chance. Paola is also providing sanitizers at each table and asks that you make sure to wash your hands before eating so that we can do what we can to limit the spread of the virus.
“Thank you for the effort that you’ve put into helping each other to get through this difficult time.” – Paola, Osteria Tufo.
A cause that’s close to our hearts (and our stomachs), Common Ground also had to face an enforced closure when lockdown took place. In their fight to stay alive, they launched the crowdfunding campaign #SAVEOURCOMMONGROUND so that they could reopen the store once lockdown restrictions were eased, linking posts and clips via their Instagram account. When permanent closure seemed touch and go, as their outgoings were much greater than the government could cover, they were able to offer pay forward rewards for all things coffee, brunch and merch related to raise funds and help their cash flow.
Thankfully their doors are now open as they operate under social distance regulations, mostly through by reducing the number of dine-ins. Despite this measure posing a fear for business survival, Common Ground have said that sales have been steadily growing so they do believe there’s hope!
Thanks to the wonderful people of N4, Common Ground raised a whopping £20,000 in 4 weeks with 378 pledges, many of which hailing from our beloved N4 with pledges for pay forward rewards. Thanks to this, we can now order the weekend waffles and the three cheese toasties once more! (or twice… maybe three times… a week.).
Common Ground are doing what they can to ensure every customer’s brunching experience is as safe as possible, so stopping by for a coffee or meal would be the best possible way you can support them. With great coffee and even better food, we doubt that will be much of a challenge.
“We’re so thankful and humbled by this support. It made us feel loved and a real part of the community. Everyone who pledged in our crowdfunder has our greatest thanks. And we’re super grateful to people who are coming to visit us again and buy our coffees and food now that we have reopened.” – Steve, Common Ground.
Our friendly local design and creative agency, Barefaced Studios, were hit pretty hard by the pandemic. Whilst they were able to continue to operate remotely, thanks to tech such as Zoom and Asana, the effect of COVID-19 on businesses had a knock-on effect. Barefaced Studios typically work with start-ups and small businesses, many of which were badly affected by the lockdown. As businesses were understandably forced to tighten their belts, or hold off completely from launching, it meant that many of Barefaced’s clients had to pause their projects temporarily or indefinitely.
Thankfully Barefaced Studios managed to weather the storm, largely due to the continued support of their clients. They were also grateful to take on a handful of new clients that were either looking to launch new ventures, or strengthen their brand and marketing in order to help survive the pandemic and hit the ground running once lockdown started to ease.
During the lockdown the Barefaced team released some helpful guides on their blog, providing advice to businesses about communication, marketing and branding during a crises. They also offered free phone consultations for small to medium sized businesses and start-ups across the UK in order to provide tailored industry-specific marketing and brand advice.
Barefaced have several locally based ongoing clients (including Davies & Davies Estate Agents!) who have stuck by them during the pandemic. They were also really chuffed that a couple of local businesses returned to them for additional work. It’s meant that they’ve been able to keep their heads above water!
If you or a friend run, or are launching, a business and need help with branding, web design, marketing, photography, graphic design or creative content get in touch! You can find more info, case studies and a selection of their fees on their website (click here) and they also offer discounts for charities, non-profits, social enterprises and locally based businesses. If you’ve worked with Barefaced Studios it would also be incredibly helpful to leave them a Google review by clicking here – they will do a little happy dance in your honour.
“Thank you for all of your support during this weird, difficult time. We’re really grateful for everyone who has recommended our services, sent us messages of support and chosen to work with us. In an effort to keep supporting local businesses and small businesses across the country we will continue to operate our free phone consultation service for the foreseeable future. So, if you think you’d benefit from some marketing, brand or website advice please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org” – Claire, Barefaced Studios.
That’s us! Your local friendly property nerds. While lockdown meant that we had to close our IRL doors and the government restrictions put limitations on house viewings, we were lucky that our team were able to work remotely. We were able set up video tours in place of real life viewings so that buyers could continue their search from the safety of their own homes. On a digital scale we also created useful guides for our tenants, landlords, buyers and vendors, to help guide them through the weird and uncertain times of lockdown, offering our full support when it was needed. At the same time we implemented our new software, so that in a time of chaos, we could at least make sure all our processes run smoothly for our team and customers.
While things are back on track, we’re finding that a lot of tenants are have no choice but to move out as the pandemic has taken a big hit on many people’s employment circumstances. So it’s more important than ever that people are getting back out there (while staying safe) and buying, wherever possible, from local and independent businesses to help boost the local economy, and secure and create jobs.
N4 has been great during the lockdown period! Everyone’s been very patient and understanding of the new rules and guidance we’ve had to put in place. Our tenants and landlords have also been really understanding considering the limited resources available during the pandemic, and we’ve been so impressed by the acts of kindness we’ve witnessed. We’re also extremely grateful for the support that’s been given to our local shops and restaurants – the people who buy and rent from us do so because of the amazing community we have, and the local businesses within it. Most of our team are locals and we believe it’s our job to promote and support our vibrant community.
While we’re all waiting for Boris to announce a new vaccine that will free us from this virus, we’re unfortunately still in a pandemic and are still learning to live with it. Therefore, we ask that tenants to continue to be considerate of the current situation we all face and understand that the contractor’s services we work with have had to change, which can sometimes result in slight delays when it comes to our managed properties. If everyone can continue to book appointments with us, rather than popping in, that would also be very helpful. We really are working as hard as we can to make sure we can keep our services to a maximum. It would also be incredibly helpful if you could leave us a Google review if you’ve used our services by clicking here.
“Thank you for keeping to the rules and sticking by us whilst this has been going on. Thank you for your acts of kindness and patience during this difficult time. We look forward to seeing the community get back on track as we all continue to work together in what is now the new normal.” – Alex, Davies & Davies.
While lockdown may have ended and shops and restaurants settle back into business, our much-loved local businesses have not come out the other side unscathed, with many still having to battle challenges to stay afloat. The people of N4 have no doubt been a saving grace to us all, so to ensure you can keep visiting your favourite local hangouts and shops long term, please continue to be the lovely locals you are and keep safely enjoying what our businesses have to offer.Back to Useful Guides & Insights
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85 Stroud Green Road
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