St Albans retailers gearing up for re-opening on April 12

Books on the Hill in St Albans.

Books on the Hill in St Albans. - Credit: Matt Adams

The next phase in the government's roadmap out of lockdown will see the re-opening of non-essential shops for the first time in months.

From next Monday, April 12, we will once again be able to visit bookshops and boutiques, gift shops and game shops, and have actual face-to-face conversations with real life retailers.

Ahead of their grand re-openings, we spoke to some of the city's independents to find out how they feel about welcoming customers back into their stores.

The Dressing Room in St Albans High Street.

The Dressing Room in St Albans High Street. - Credit: Matt Adams

Deryane Tadd, owner of The Dressing Room, is planning on marking this milestone with new product launches and spring windows and a completely new collection launching on the day.

"As a retail business we thrive on the interaction we have with customers face to face and the relationships we have built with them over the past 16 years. Seeing our lovely customers from 12th April, styling them and giving them a great shopping experience is what we do best, we can't wait!

"As lockdown eases we will be integrating the full team back into the workplace and incorporating twice weekly lateral flow testing to ensure the safest possible environment.

"I am positive and hopeful for the rest of 2021, although I am under no illusions that things will be easy. I anticipate that we will have tough times ahead but we will power through with the energy and determination we have shown throughout the past 12 months I am confident we will come through this. The speed of the vaccination roll-out is a saving grace and has really helped to lift consumer confidence."

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Books on the Hill events manager Antonia Mason said they have been gearing up for re-opening by undertaking a deep 'spring clean' of the shop, and planning events for the summer when it is safe to do so in-store.

"At this moment in time our shop has spent more time in lockdown than being open so every sale counts. We are very aware of the importance of reading as a source of escapism and relaxation for the community so being allowed to reopen our doors we can continue to support our community in person as well as online."

Raindrops on Roses, St Albans.

Raindrops on Roses, St Albans. - Credit: Matt Adams

Tere Harrington, retail director for charity gift shop Raindrops on Roses, said: "Re-opening on the 12th April means the world to us! We’re really looking forward to welcoming customers back and can’t wait to hear what they think of all our new products.

"Whilst we’ve been open for click and collect, it’s been wonderful to hear passers-by telling us how much they’re looking forward to the shop re-opening.

"The safety of our customers, staff and volunteers is of utmost importance to us, and we'll be continuing with all the usual safety measures until the government tells us otherwise."

Cositas in St Albans.

Cositas in St Albans. - Credit: Matt Adams

Emma Bustamante, owner of Cositas on Holywell Hill and Cositas Gifts on High Street, said: "In all honesty I’m feeling a bit nervous about re-opening in case we’re not able to recoup the losses that we’ve incurred, but we couldn’t hope for a more supportive community and we look forward to going back to what we do best, serving our customers in the shops! 

"Although we are available online, our strong point is engaging with our customers and providing a beautiful, engaging and friendly place for them to visit - we’ve really missed being able to do that throughout lockdown.

"Our very popular creative workshops will be re-opening mid June and the buzz of having all those creative people back in the shop is something we’re really looking forward to. 

"One thing we’ve really learnt over the past year is our ability to be very flexible and to pivot on a penny and we’ll definitely be moving forward with this at the forefront of all our plans. So if our customers want us to open late that’s what we’ll do. We’ll be open for private and bubble shopping as we have been over the last year and continue to operate within all the government guidelines."

Empire Records in Heritage Close, St Albans.

Empire Records in Heritage Close, St Albans. - Credit: Matt Adams

Dave Burgess, manager of Empire Records, said: "Re-opening is of huge importance to us, as one of the essential elements of a record shop is the tactile nature of it all. The ability to browse through the racks, picking up and inspecting old records, giving them a spin on the turntable and discovering something new is an experience that can't be replicated online!

"We have Record Store Day coming up on June 12  and July 17 and we should see the reveal of all the limited editions that will be available this year soon. We will also have a large selection of classic records going out for sale when we re-open."

Alison Lloyd, owner of designer jewellery shop Amalily, added her own thoughts on the re-opening of shops.

"It's been a challenge conveying the quality and feel of our jewellery over online images. There's nothing quite like a good browse in person and the customer service available in-store.

"We are super pleased to have launched our bridal collection and have designed incredible colourful statement earrings arriving soon which will be a big hit this season as people want to get dressed up having been in loungewear for too long! 

"We will be extending our hours with these gorgeous summer evenings we have ahead, and I hope St Albans is abuzz with tourists from surrounding counties this summer and people from close by enjoy all that's on offer in this beautiful city!"