Shop Local: Award-winning boutique fighting back through pandemic pressures
- Credit: Archant
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been seen across the fashion sector, regardless of their past successes.
St Albans’ acclaimed The Dressing Room was founded in 2005 by Deryane Tadd, and over the last 15 years has been listed in the top 50 boutiques in the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella Magazine 2019, Glamour magazine’s top 50 boutiques and Stylist Magazine’s best 50 boutiques and was peer voted as the UK’s no 1 most Inspiring Independent Fashion Retailer.
But no number of awards could have compensated for three months of closure under the first lockdown, the subsequent social distancing restrictions, and this week’s second shutdown.
The Dressing Room relies on a strong online presence, with its website (the-dressingroom.com) widening the shop’s reach nationally and internationally.
Owner Deryane Tadd said: “I am absolutely gutted to be heading into a second lockdown. The effects will be catastrophic for many retailers and I am sure we will see many casualties across the British high street as we head into what should be peak season.
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“It will be very difficult for retail and hospitality businesses, but we will adapt and change as we need to. The further challenge for small businesses will come as the big high street multiples will descend into a hideous discount battle in an attempt to clear stock.”
She revealed how The Dressing Room would cope from a personal perspective: “We will be better prepared for it than last time - but we need the support of our local community to get us through this - it won’t happen without that.
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“I am thankful that I have spent the last 10 years building my online business so it is robust and ready for this, I have various marketing plans ready to go and I will ensure that I react to my customers’ needs and adapt if needed.
“We will be open for business in every sense apart from the shopfloor side of things. Click and collect will be available six days a week from 11am-4pm, and virtual styling appointments are ready and waiting for you to book your fashion fix.
“Our Gift Concierge service launches this week - just tell us who you need to buy for, what your budget is and we will pull together the perfect gift selection for you. You can also build your own wish list with us and we can guide your nearest and dearest to make the right choices.”
She added: “Whatever success we make of trading through the second lockdown, I cannot get away from the fact that we will miss the buzz and excitement that comes with serving customers face to face in the lead up to Christmas, however I will be sure to make it the very best I can.”
Deryane said it is imperative that this Christmas is a success, and is supporting the Herts Ad’s #ShopLocal campaign.
“Independent retailers are the lifeblood of the local high street, and without them it will lose its soul.
“As independent retailers, we source our products specifically with our customer base in mind, we provide exceptional shopping experiences tailored to our clientele and we have fun with our customers whilst we do it. You simply don’t get the same level of detail, care and attention from the big chains.
“I do feel that people have re-evaluated how they shop and where they shop, many more people are choosing to shop local and actively support small businesses, they are becoming more aware of the impact their shopping habits have on the individuals working in and running independents. Now more than ever, it is a case of use us or lose us.”
Prior to lockdown, she has also been championing St Albans as a tourist destination, with a section of the site dedicated to encouraging visitors to the city: “We had seen a real increase in visitors to the store from far and wide and they would often ask us for tips on where to go to eat and drink or where to extend their stay in St Albans.
“Introducing the Visit St Albans page means that there is a specific place for people to plan their trip to the city before they visit us, we have chosen all of our team’s favourite small businesses to visit, eat and drink.”