Letters from Zoë: July 2020
An open letter to all consumers
Please be kind and please be patient.
Things are not normal out here and life has and will continue to change at a rapid and unpredictable rate but we are learning to adapt!
This month has been a turning point for a lot of business’. We are now returning to a ‘semi-normal’ version of what life used to be like. I cannot express how much I miss being in the workshop. This was up until I found my first job was a bespoke belt to make which required stitching around the entire length, my fingers which had become extremely soft during lockdown were not pleased with this shock of work!
A belt like this, for example, had a very simplistic brief; black ladies belt, matching stitching, raised like a browband with a classic silver buckle. Some jobs are not so easy to explain, having a large range of buckle styles, designs and leather types its difficult to effectively communicate bespoke designs or repairs from the customer while keeping an appropriate distance. This involves a lot of back and forth placing items down and stepping back for customers to inspect themselves and sanitising everything after. This makes every job and enquiry take longer and we often feel a bit flustered or foolish having to direct people around the shop rather than just standing there with them but we are all aware of the risks and cannot risk another lockdown so are taking recommendations and precautions in our stride.
I know many customers have missed the convenience of all ‘non-essential’ shops to be open. However, this doesn't come without its challenges, we are now working under strict regulations and guidelines to open safely. This has included many modifications to our workspaces, environments and restrictions to how many can be in the work at once. For us at Cirencester Saddlers, we have created perspex ‘pods’ for us to work in, as we have a rather small workshop it was important for us to have these screens that enclose the whole bench as we cannot viably work a metres distance from each other. In addition to this, we just have to be sensible and aware of who is in communal areas and remembering to clean down any items such as card machines, phones, pens etc and to wash and sanitise our hands when working with customers or handling their items for repair. The biggest change is for my dog Monty, who joins me at work, he isn’t allowed cuddles with the customers or to dog watch the walkers who are going for a stroll around the beautiful Cirencester Park and has to stay out the back in the workshop which he is particularly unhappy about!
This is the same for many businesses’ and I can guarantee we are all trying to move as quickly as possible and catch up on almost four months of backlog. Many of our suppliers are just as busy as we are and have wait times much longer than usual. The lockdown may be easing however our repairs, re-flocks and bespoke orders board was just filling up!
This, of course, is not a complaint, like every small, bespoke, or family business we are extremely happy to still have the support of our customers. Even if it requires a mask and some hand sanitizer to see them ( at a one-metre plus distance of course)!
Thanks for reading.