Two Suffolk stores in running to be crowned UK’s best small shop
- Credit: Archant
Elmy Cycles, in St Helen’s Street, Ipswich, and Ruby and the Angel in Debenham have been shortlisted for the prestigious award by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC).
The Ipswich-based cycle shop reinvented itself during lockdown.
Within two weeks of lockdown Elmy cycles had built an e-commerce shop from scratch and listed all of its bikes for sale online.
MORE: Shop local - How wedding caterers reinvented their business in lockdown to open new shopBefore reopening they brought in a local builder to alter the shop layout to allow them to serve customers safely while maintaining social distancing.
They also conducted over 200 free cycle safety services for keyworkers and distributed over 100 free care packages of lights, helmet and safety jacket.
Owner Steve Greenwood outlined the shop’s plan for the future. He said: “Going forward, we are continuing to change our layout to enhance our click and collect experience and have created extra separated workshop areas and additional hand wash stations to ensure mechanics can work safely.
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“We now have an integrated workshop booking system online and will soon be able to allow customers to view the progress of their repair online.
“We are also working with the local authority to deliver a road safety cycle training event for new cyclists and are hoping to develop a ReCycling Scheme for used and second hand bikes for anyone struggling financially.”
MORE: Shop Local: Christmas could be ‘make or break’ time for Ipswich shops, town warnedAs well as the best small shop award, gift-shop Ruby and the Angel has also been shortlisted for an a special award for its ‘specific innovation to combat the impact of Covid-19’.
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During lockdown, the shop offered free postage and local deliveries as well as helping the elderly and vulnerable.
They ran competitions to keep customers engaged and sold handmade face masks, donating a percentage of the income to NHS charities.
Although income dried up, owner Tammy King, even maintained weekly window displays in an attempt to make people smile.
She said: “We continued to grow our social media presence by running giveaways and competitions and chatted to our customers as we did deliveries in the village.
“During lockdown we joined the Shop Suffolk campaign to promote services and products on offer in Suffolk.
“And when we re-opened after lockdown in a safe and Covid-secure environment, we set up personal shopping appointments for the vulnerable and customers that did not have time to wait.”