BUSINESS AT LOCKDOWN
Text By Richard Cartwright
You drop out of the Civil Service or your safe job somewhere, start a business, employ one or two individuals and all is going well…COVID-19 hits the streets and the whole town is in limbo for months…’Stay at home or else!!’ No customers, no business…what now??
That, in a nutshell, has been the situation for the past so many weeks where businesses, large or small, have had a problem or two – to say the least. ‘What do we do now?’ ‘How do we deal with this, the staff, the lack of income, the business? And how long will this drama go on for??’
Well, it went on for long enough, “More than long enough,” I hear many business people cry! Time to think, how to cope with it and I suppose, see what happens must’ve been the general thinking and so, it didn’t turn out as bad as feared according to some of the individuals I spoke to. Goes without saying, it would have been better to stay open, have a better turnover, keep people employed paying their dues to government coffers and worry less about whether they were facing a closedown scenario or not.
It seems, however, for some, the experience wasn’t entirely negative…“We were expecting the worst,” multimedia store, Music Corner owner, Naresh Bassantani, told me, “The day after lockdown, we were inundated with calls and requests for goods. Deliveries to homes were a constant and it never stopped and for that we have to thank the local community for their support!” Euphoria and Vijay tell the same story…Bayju says he was available for much of the time as he, on his own, was at the store ready to take on enquires and subsequent deliveries… “In the later weeks of lockdown, I would say maybe, it was better than an opened shop! Families not spending money on kids’ parties nor going out to restaurants etc meant there was plenty disposable cash available.”
Us For Toys’s Bianca Sanguinetti really feared ‘the end was nigh’ when lockdown took off… “We have two shops, the staff were worried with both units closing down and it really was time to get together with my sister and brother to see what we could do. We started taking photos and filming of the toys and games in the shops and through social media offered free delivery of what was there. With children having to stay at home not going to school, we thought it a great idea to offer our goods online to keep them entertained…and it worked! It was time consuming walking around the shop filming then taking orders and delivering but we had lots of requests so we can’t complain, in the end, it turned out ok, if we hadn’t done that, it would have been so much worse. Sebastian of the ‘Face Frames Gallery’ was kept busy also enjoying the lockdown. “I felt it a privilege with much to do as you can become overwhelmed when you’re open. I had a team change in the store, teaching a little at the college, I was painting on Instagram and there was some selling also, so maybe in a strange way, I enjoyed the lockdown.”
It’s no surprise to anyone I’m sure, the Takeaway outfits did very well also as did drinks suppliers delivering allsorts to homes everywhere… Lewis Stagnetto Ltd, told me their warehouse was kept busy, especially making sure Morrison’s wine, beer and spirit stocks were plentiful throughout the period. Saccone & Speed (Gibraltar) Ltd provided my household with £50 worth of soft drinks and spirits on two occasions and other delivery outfits and stores were on hand to transport any sort of item required. I also had a smart TV delivered to my home early on during the inevitable ‘shut down’, so there was no need to go without – all you needed to do was go online or give them a call!
The Wine Shop and My Wines made sure they didn’t stay at home twiddling their thumbs either… “Absolutely” Tony Hernandez asserts, “My Wines at Chatham Counterguard was busy delivering food and I jumped in my car and delivered bottles of wine and chocolates from my shop here in Tuckey’s Lane to homes everywhere.” Parking, I’m sure being a problem didn’t deter Tony from hauling the heavy bottles from wherever he eventually was able to park to someone’s home for those indoors more than ready to enjoy a very welcomed tipple!
Obviously when lockdown was announced ‘WHAT NOW’ neon signs must’ve lit up in every business person’s brain and Tony’ grey matter was no exception I’m certain… “No, I wondered if the business would become extinct, but I think for many, Social Media was the saviour. I started listing my wines on the website selecting something different and it kicked off. We even had wine and food tasting with live, ‘lockdown sessions’ and as time went on, hopes were lifted.” Rents were halved for many which also helped to see the period through.
The biggest desire for everyone is that a dreaded spike in the virus will not occur and everything will get back to normal or the ‘new normal’…slowly I’m sure, but back to normal we will. Our entrepreneurial community will bounce back again I’m certain and in time, the effects of Covid-19 will just be remembered as a bad dream, albeit a very bad one…Here’s to, ‘a hope for the best!’
Article provided by Globe Magazine Gibraltar