Teddington High Street’s heartbeat remains strong despite months of challenges following lockdown after lockdown.
Fiona Kingston caught up with Lucy Rock, the Treasurer of Teddington Together to find out how Teddington Traders ‘creative thinking’ is helping them push through the turmoil of the pandemic.
Takeaways, click and collect, and innovation online have been instrumental in securing income as ‘business as usual’ ceased early last year.
Lucy, Treasurer since 2019, said: “Traders where possible have been exceptional in their efforts and ingenuity to stay ticking over.”
On top of food and drink takeaways, traders are also delivering and donating to residents who are shielding, isolating and vulnerable. Meals have been provided for NHS and care workers. And lockdown tips shared, online with customers, on haircare and mental health. “It has been wonderful to see our community really pulling together and working as a team.” says Lucy.
Teddington Together, which now liaises with more than 100 local businesses, has worked tirelessly from the moment the nation first shut down in March 2020.
Besides liaising closely with council leaders across the borough to secure PPE and vital information on grants and other funding to prevent businesses from folding, this voluntary organisation has offered shops social media advice:
“We believe that a strong online and social media marketing presence is key to staying afloat and relevant in such a competitive environment.” explains Lucy.
Shops for whom this has worked include the town’s gift shops and jewellery stores. Trade has also been boosted by offering locals a delivery service.
It’s not all good. Some shops have closed down. Takings at Teddington’s restaurants and pubs have been hit hard with repeat closures, punitive restrictions and the high cost of making premises Covid secure.
Debt for many pubs continues to mount as Breweries fail to reduce or freeze rent, and the grants offered to compensate the loss of custom, particularly at Christmas, are woefully small.
Despite this Teddington’s publicans remain upbeat and look forward to re-opening in the spring.
Gemma Herkes, who has run the Builder’s Arms for 15 years, said: “It’s been a struggle, but we are just focused on all the events we will hold when we can fully re-open. The first will be a big celebratory lunch for my amazing customers. I’ve missed them.”
On her wish list for 2021: ‘an end to restrictions’ – she ran her pub at 25% of its capacity in 2020 – a ‘freeze in rents’ and to see her parents.
Matt Openshaw, boss of The Hogarth, and The Lion, is also eager to see his staff and customers again.
His first event, god-willing, will be: “Our popular Hogarth Beer and Music Festival. Usually held on the first, but more likely to be the second, May Bank Holiday.”
He reflects: “Whilst we created a great atmosphere when we were open in 2020, operating under ever-changing rules meant we lost considerable amounts of revenue.”
Simon Knox, general manager at The Clock House since last summer, has some good news: “We recently struck a favourable deal with Pub Group Stonegate.” The pub is being refurbished and renamed.
Teddington Together, is thinking creatively too. “We are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the end of lockdown” said Lucy.
Besides preparing for their ever popular Christmas lights up, exciting plans are evolving for a “Proms (almost) on the Park Festival on Saturday 11th September 2021.”
If we, the community, do what the traders and Teddington Together wish for: “Get vaccinated, follow the guidelines, and buy local”, we hope as we go to press, that this year, all of this will come true.
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