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Founder of Roo's Beach in Porth, North Cornwall, gives tips for independent businesses during lockdown. Roo Cross owns this small yet mighty boutique selling clothing and lifestyle accessories perfect for weddings, and has had to close her store and put her efforts into the online side of the business.
During the lockdown, how has the business kept going?
Since the closure of our store here on the north coast of Cornwall, we've been putting all our efforts into our online presence. My digital staff can work from home, keeping our website and social media going while I post deliveries and answer any enquiries from the shop. So far it's working out well! People are in need of a little sunshine while they stay indoors right now, so we are pleased to continue delivering our clothes direct to them. I'm currently working alongside my daughters, packing orders, dealing with enquiries, and processing exchanges and returns. Thank goodness for the postman! Any locals that wish to collect their orders still can. They just have to let us know when they are passing in order to pick up their parcel from outside.
How many brands do you stock?
We currently stock around 70 different brands, with our bestsellers being American Vintage, Levi's, L.F. Markey, Bellerose, Free People, Baggu, Birkenstock and Veja to name but a few – brands you just don't typically see available in Cornwall.
Has social media been useful for you during this tough time?
We've tried our hardest to make people smile and entertain them whilst they are at home. Keeping content colourful and cheerful, bringing the Roo's Beach shop to them in the comfort of their own homes. I've done this by starting my own styling videos which have gone down so well, I've been inundated with positive feedback that I'm going to start doing them each week from now on! Feel free to watch my latest one here: https://roosbeach.co.uk/blogs/news/these-are-a-few-of-my-favourite-things-part-2
How have customers responded during this period?
Amazingly supportive. We have such incredible, lovely customers. People that have purchased are sending us lovely thank you messages when they've received their orders, others enjoying our posts and videos on social media have also been in touch to let us know that we are making their self-isolation time more bearable. It just keeps us smiling and going! We've seen a real growth in our online store which keeps going, we're spending so much time on this as it's our only route to market and we're learning lessons about how we can make it work for us and our customers going forward.
What would be your advice to other independents during this time?
Keep going, believe in your brand and your customers, entertain them and bring the shop experience to their homes. Most independent retailers thrive due to the relationships that have been built up between the staff and the customers. We need to keep this relationship going and make ourselves available to our customers, think about what will work for them in this very strange, surreal time that we find ourselves in and strive to stay positive and portray confidence and empathy.
How have you been spending your time during lockdown at the weekends?
I find myself with all three of my children back at home, and my son's girlfriend too. We never expected to spend this time together as a family unit again because two of them left home over four and six years ago. It's such a special time for us and so far, we're all getting on well. We're playing cards and Perudo, drinking gin and cooking lots of delicious food! I'm running as much as I can which is good for my head space and we're ridiculously lucky to be able to walk to the beach and walk the dogs daily.
To shop, visit https://roosbeach.co.uk and https://www.instagram.com/roosbeach/