Roma’s boutique stores close doors indefinitely
HARDLY a day goes by without news of another store shutting their doors for an unprecedented amount of time.
Multiple Roma boutiques have been forced to shut shop in the past three weeks as new social distancing measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 outbreak leave many shoppers confined to their homes.
Gretel Lane, Country Buds Fashion and Accessories, Loot Homewares, Inky and Moss, Gorgeous Gifts and Homewares, among others, announced they would be closing their storefronts to focus online.
Gabby Barron, owner of Gretel Lane said she struggled for a week with the decision to close the doors at the end of March.
“I didn’t think I was an essential business and I felt by closing my doors it can help deter people from going shopping and leaving their homes when it is not necessary,” Ms Barron said.
Gretel Lane employed four casuals and currently has no work for any of them.
“The days leading up to my closure, the foot traffic had dramatically decreased and online shopping has also been quiet,” she said.
“Online sales will not keep me afloat, but at this stage any sale is better than none.
“We currently have 35 per cent off online to encourage people to shop and to clear our new winter styles.”
The boutique owner said with government support and help from the local businesses, she feel every business in town can get through this.
“It’s important now more than ever to shop locally and support those businesses who employ locally,” Ms Barron said.
Lea Penrose, owner of Country Buds, said closing the doors to her store was a hard decision and she doesn’t know when they will reopen.
“At the same time, it was also hard to be instore when all the sales had disappeared,” she said.
“This year we were all looking forward to after rain that arrived, then Easter in the Country was going to be bigger than ever.
“Everything was pointing to a prosperous year.
“The few sales I did over the last few weeks were from customers showing they care.”
Ultimately, concern about the virus spreading was always on the owners mind and Mrs Penrose said isolation and going out for essentials is the only way to beat it.
“I’m attempting to set up an online shop on the Country Buds Facebook page,” she said.
“I’ve had help from Ali from Halls Furniture, and my friend Kaylene reached out to offer me help.
“That’s what I love about Roma – the kindness and care for one another.
“My suppliers have also been doing what they can to ease a bit of pressure and allowed me to cancel a few orders.”
Mrs Penrose said her aim during this time is to stay in contact with her customers via social media.
“Hopefully we can make it fun until we are able to open our doors again and that will be an absolutely wonderful day,” she said.