April 13, 2021 4.24 pm This story is over 31 months old

Surviving and thriving: Lincoln independents emerge from lockdown

Checking in on our local independents uphill

Local independents have suffered greatly as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, but the time has finally come for the doors to be reopened, and shop owners are delighted to be back.

Non-essential retail was allowed to reopen on Monday, April 12 as part of the latest stage of the government’s roadmap out of coronavirus lockdown.

After chaos with queues in the city centre, The Lincolnite went uphill in Lincoln to talk to some local independents on Steep Hill and the Bailgate to see how the reopening has gone.

Laura Scaife had only opened Fairy Godmother’s Beauty Room for a month before we went into national lockdown. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Perhaps the most relieved person in Lincoln was Laura Scaife, owner of Fairy Godmother’s Beauty Room on Steep Hill, which only opened last February, right before the pandemic hit Britain.

Laura wasn’t entitled to any furlough pay due to only starting the business very recently, so was eager to get started at work again.

She said: “It’s been a testing year for us, it was rather lonely in lockdown and obviously there’s only so much you can do on social media in an industry like mine.

“My clients have been absolutely amazing and they’ve all been coming back after each lockdown. Hopefully the future is promising for us after a difficult start.”

Sasha Drennan has owned Lindum Books since it opened seven years ago. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

At Lindum Books on the Bailgate, owner of seven years Sasha Drennan said that despite her happiness at reopening, she has faced difficulties when it comes to enforcing COVID-19 restrictions.

“We only opened on Tuesday and already I’ve had to remind people about wearing masks properly, social distancing and using hand sanitiser.

“Some were looking at the sanitiser like they’d never seen it before! I just hope people realise we are still in the midst of a pandemic, otherwise we could be in danger of going back to how we were.

“Despite this, I am obviously very happy to be back inside the shop and it’s great seeing people walking on the Bailgate again.”

Caroline Bundy has worked at Linkage for around six months. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

One shop that needed the reopening more than most was Linkage on the Bailgate, a Lincolnshire based charity offering support for people with learning difficulties.

Caroline Bundy, who works at the Linkage store, said that the charity had been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, due to stores being a great way to raise money.

After what was described as a “steady first day”, Caroline told The Lincolnite: “We’re excited to be back, hopefully the good weather will encourage people to get out shopping on the Bailgate and support local independents.”

Craig Burrows is the manager of Steep Hill Wines, offering a range of alcoholic drinks. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Steep Hill Wines have had to adapt, like so many others, due to lockdown closing the store, and their move online has proven to be a big hit.

Manager Craig Burrows has said that face-to-face contact is so important to the success of the store, and human interaction is the thing he has missed most.

“We are here to help people on the start of their wine journey, who might need a bit of direction as to what to try and what they may like.

“There’s no substitute for talking with people face-to-face, and that’s what we can now look to offer to all our customers.”

Craig also spoke about the community spirit of local independents, as everyone would lend a hand to one another during the difficult stages of lockdown.

He said: “Businesses would offer their services to one another during lockdown to help us all get through it, the importance of local independents cannot be understated.

“We must protect these local shops and not let them be replaced by big chains, it is part of what makes uphill Lincoln, particularly the Bailgate and Steep Hill, so unique and special.”

Elsewhere on Steep Hill, Imperial Teas of Lincoln celebrated reopening with a special anniversary, marking 30 years as a local business in the city.