'Try then buy': Boutique boss starts delivery service to save store

Denise and Claire Harris, Whispers boutique

Denise and Claire Harris who are taking clothes to people's houses in a bid to get sales as Covid continues to bite. - Credit: Archant

The owner of an independent ladies clothes store in Norwich is taking her stock to people's doors as Covid threatens her business.

Claire Harris, Whispers boutique

Fashion delivered to your door...boutique owner Claire Harris. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Claire Harris, who runs Whispers Boutique from a unit at Taverham Garden Centre with mum Denise, faces huge bills as an entire new spring/summer range of clothing comes in.

She needs to start selling it now to lift the financial burden rather than wait to hopefully be able to open next month as lockdown lifts. 

So she's started up a delivery service whereby she takes clothing to people's homes, drops them off for them to be tried on while she either waits in her car or returns later.

People make a contactless payment for the clothes they want and unwanted items get collected and returned to the store. All clothing is steam cleaned in between use.

Whispers boutique, Taverham Garden Centre

Whispers boutique, based at Taverham Garden Centre. - Credit: Archant


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Ms Harris said: "We are doing all we can to survive this pandemic. With only buying the business in September 2019 we have not yet had a full season without being closed or having major disruption due to the virus.

"If we are not pro-active then we won't be able to continue. We feel like we’ve been completely forgotten about. It is also unfair that supermarkets have been allowed to sell their clothes and accessories throughout the whole of lockdown and we haven’t."

Whispers boutique delivery car

Ready for deliveries of clothing to your door. - Credit: Archant

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She said she'd received £1,334 grant aid for 28 days from the government which helped pay for the running costs like electricity and insurance but she herself was having to fund the rest to keep going.

Last November she called for compensation from the government, rallying with other business bosses in the hair and beauty industry.

"The problem for us that people's mindsets now is they'll wait until shops reopen but we have a complete season of clothes to pay for now. If we hadn't ordered the stock, we wouldn't have had much when we did open and then people would think we were closing down.

"We held a sale during the last lockdown for cash flow but we can't afford to discount our new stock, it's really tough."

The delivery service operates currently in Taverham, Hellesdon, Horsford, Costessey and Horsham St Faiths but if Ms Harris receives enough requests from another area, would consider going further.

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