Shop Local: Choose our independent gift shops for your Christmas presents this year

PUBLISHED: 12:00 31 October 2020

Members of the team at Raindrops on Roses in St Albans.

Members of the team at Raindrops on Roses in St Albans.

Archant

There is probably no time of the year more important to St Albans gift shops than Christmas, and good trade is vital after the unprecedented challenges of 2020.

Raindrops and Roses in St Albans.Raindrops and Roses in St Albans.

Tere Harrington is the retail director for Raindrops on Roses, situated on the High Street, which sells a unique range of gift ideas, many sourced from some of the city’s finest craftspeople.

The shop was set up in aid of Herts Against Cancer, which is devoted to raising cancer awareness and supports local initiatives including Mount Vernon Cancer Network and the Paul Strickland Scanner Appeal, and theyTsell many stylish and distinctive items, such as new leather make-up cases, cute animal rattles and cufflinks, at prices to suit any budget.

Tere explained what issues they are facing under the current guidelines: “We are now open for fewer hours per week and have restrictions on the number of people able to be in store at any one time. This can make us feel we’re letting customers down a little; especially those loyalists who love to be part of our fundraising efforts. However, the safety of shoppers and staff/volunteers must come first, and that’s why we’ve introduced a raft of measures such as very regular cleaning, the use of hand sanitisers, and the wearing of face coverings

“Inevitably, shopping has moved even more online and we have worked hard to meet this challenge - launching a website that allows customers to browse and buy from the safety of their own bubbles.”

Raindrops and Roses in St Albans.Raindrops and Roses in St Albans.

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The pandemic and lockdown took a massive toll on the shop’s fundraising efforts: “As we were closed for three months and didn’t have an online presence, we were unable to raise funds for our chosen cancer charity Action Against Cancer. Therefore it will be very important for us to have a successful Christmas, and we hope our new transactional website will help us close the gap on what might have been.”

Like many other retail managers, she is calling on residents to support the city’s independent shops: “News reports tell us how high streets are getting badly damaged by the pandemic – with lower footfall, empty units and loss of buzz. Of course it’s the little independents who can do so much to create that buzz – through unique products and owners with real passion for the area and their store. More than that, independents turn visits into longer shopping trips and this means the rest of the city benefits – from cafés to museums. St Albans would feel a less special place if we lost the little guys.”

The new Raindrops on Roses online shopping service (raindropsonroses.org.uk) aims to provide a one-stop shop for presents: “We offer the vast majority of our in-store products online, including ranges for men, women and children. The site features artwork, food and drink and beautiful stationery. We’ve also pulled together all our Christmas products into one category to make shopping even easier in the lead-up to the festive season.

Emma Bustamante in Cositas Gifts, her new venture to try and attract more shoppers who don't leave the centre of St Albans, Picture: Laura BillEmma Bustamante in Cositas Gifts, her new venture to try and attract more shoppers who don't leave the centre of St Albans, Picture: Laura Bill

“We feel the website is user-friendly and we want to reiterate that you can buy and do good things by visiting and buying from Raindrops on Roses.”

Cositas owner Emma Bustamante said this Christmas is especially important for them after launching their new shop Cositas Gifts in High Street: “How Christmas goes for us this year will determine whether this whole shop was an amazing, inspired and clever idea or a really expensive mistake. The idea is to generate the income over Christmas to sustain us through January, February and March, which will enable us to flourish rather than just survive.

“So we’re going to be launching the ultimate Christmas window campaign for people who don’t want to go into the shop. They’re going to be able to use a QR code on their phone and buy from our shop window. We’ll wrap it straightaway and bring it out to them. We’re trying to capture every type of customer. For those who don’t want to come out of the house at all we can deliver locally, and for those who want to shop we have a really safe environment for them to do that in.”

See www.cositas.co.uk to check out their latest stock.


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