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Shop owners excited as anticipation builds ahead of re-opening date

By: Thomas Reeves treeves@thekmgroup.co.uk

Published: 06:00, 10 April 2021

Updated: 07:58, 10 April 2021

Shop owners have spoken of their excitement at being given the green light to fling open their doors again next week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed this week shops would be allowed to open once more from Monday as part of the government’s roadmap to open up the country again.

Lisa Edwards, of Ooh How Lovely, in Hawkhurst. Picture: Lisa Edwards

After being forced to close their doors amid a surge in coronavirus cases, owners are now delighted to get back to business for the first time since the third lockdown was announced in January.

Lisa Edwards, of Hawkhurst interiors and gift store Ooh How Lovely, said: “We can’t wait.

“We are actually decorating the village with bunting this weekend, so I have been making lots of bunting.

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“Everything is going ahead and that's really exciting.”

Nell Price who runs creative hub Arty Farty Retreat on London Road, Southborough, near Tunbridge Wells, will not be able to put on all her workshops just yet.

Nell Price of Arty Farty Retreat in Southborough, near Tunbridge Wells. Picture: Nell Price

“I can re-open on Monday but only for childrens workshops. So I can’t do any adults workshops until May 17 when the next stage of the government plan is,” the 35-year-old said.

“But I can open for childrens workshops which, with next week being the second week of the Easter holidays, you can imagine is really exciting.

“We have got portrait painting days, sketchbook days and print-making days. They are all starting to get booked up, I think three out of five of them are fully booked.

“So it’s really exciting that it can go-ahead.”

The Covid-19 health crisis has hit many businesses and, for husband-and-wife team Iren and Nick Brown, who run Indesign Kitchens on Rye Road in Hawkhurst, it has been a particularly tough few months.

Nick Brown and Iren Brown of InDesign Kitchens in Hawkhurst. Picture: Iren Brown

Reacting to the news they can re-open once again, 42-year-old Iren said: “It has given a little bit of a glimmer of hope, I would say.

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“It has been quite a tough ride.

“We are a brand new business, so we were hoping to open and flourish from October last year. But unfortunately, we only opened for four days before we had to close because we went into Tier 4.

“At that point, we had to close the shop again. We opened for 10 days in December but closed again, and, of course, have been shut since January.

“We want to do a big party for our grand opening but I think it's going to be next year at some point before that happens now.

Martin Stammers, left, alongside son Jay. Picture: Martin Stammers

“But I’m really glad we are able to open the doors to people and start earning some money.”

Martin Stammers who owns Snobs Ye Olde Cobblers - a shoe repair shop which sells personalised gifts on Commerical Road in Paddock Wood - says he hopes the public will support local stores.

“It’s all very well being open but we have just got to hope people come out and use the local shops,” said the 53-year-old who works alongside son Jay Stammers.

“At the minute, people are still a bit wary and a little bit scared to go out so, yes it is nice to be open, but we all want our trade back.

“There is nothing more demoralising than standing in an empty shop with no customers.

“But obviously, we're looking forward to opening again. We have made some changes in the lockdown.

“It has given us a little bit of time to do a little bit of decorating and stuff like that.”

Mrs Price added: “It has been really nice to have the base at the studio again.

“I’ve been doing some stuff online. During all the lockdowns, I have been doing free tutorials on Facebook Live which were great, and you still get people commenting on it.

“But essentially, it’s like I’m talking to myself!

“You’re never sure whether people get what you are saying and you’re not able to really interact with them, and show them what you mean and really look at their work and help them adapt it.

“So it’s going to be very different going back into the studio again.”

Mrs Price also will be doing a workshop for children with anxiety, as well, something she was unable to do online.

Ms Edwards, 52, is predicting a busy few weeks ahead.

She said: “I think it’s going to be mental! We are open for seven days for the first week, and we will probably do the same for the second week.

“We thought we would put up some bunting for this weekend. I love a bit of bunting and some balloons. Hawkhurst really does support their shops.

“The local people are really good and it’s about having things people want to buy that interest them, and then you welcome them in."

Read more: All the latest news in Weald

Read more: All the latest news in Tunbridge Wells

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