Shop owners in ‘mini Norwich Lanes’ gear up to reopen
- Credit: Neil Perry/
With non-essential shops allowed to reopen from June 15, independent businesses owners in St Augustines Street are getting ready to welcome back customers.
Mikey Smith, 27, opened Little Smiths along the road in June 2019 selling gifts, clothes and stationery with the majority of items sourced from local makers.
After building up a large following both in the Norwich shop and online, Mr Smith outgrew his premises and moved to a larger unit further down the street at number 64 in early March this year.
At the same time Jubilique Vintage and NR3 Home and Garden opened in the empty units either side, with access through to his shop, and Mr Smith now hears people call the street the “mini Norwich Lanes” as there are so many independents.
Yet just a few weeks after the trio of new openings, the country went into lockdown and Mr Smith had his “new baby snatched away”.
He is now planning to reopen on June 16, which is also his birthday, and to ensure the safety of customers he is planning to put a sneeze guard in front of the till, allow two or three people in at a time and have card payments only.
Mr Smith said: “I have been itching to reopen and every time I’ve gone down the shop to check on things it has been so depressing.
“I’m used to having customers come in and chat so I hope it will still have a community feel even with people not hanging around as much.”
Mr Smith has even more reason to love St Augustines Street as his husband Lewis, 25, owns Green Smiths plant shop at the other end of the road.
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Lewis decided to launch a website while the store has been shut and it has been a huge success and he has received over 300 orders.
Mikey Smith added: “The website has really helped with his mental health as he has Asperger’s so lockdown has been hard for him.”
Green Smiths will also reopen soon, with plans for a screen around the till and a collection service.