Meet Eleanor Clark proud owner of Armstrong Fashion and Bridal in Haltwhistle.
Eleanor's family have owned Armstrong in Haltwhistle since 1926, originally it was a general drapery but as shopping habits changed the business moved with the times. The store sells Ladies Fashion, including accessories and handbags as well as Bridal, with generations of brides-to-be choosing their dream dress for their big day.
Eleanor started working in the shop when she was just 13 as a Saturday girl and immediately fell in love with fashion and providing an excellent service for her customers. Armstrong Ladies Fashion and Bridal opened 25 years ago, which she now runs with her mum Catherine Davidson, who has been working in retail for 60 years.
How has Covid-19 affected your business?
The bridal side of the business has been very badly hit, as no-one has been able to get married. We have had brides who have had to reschedule their weddings two or three times or have cancelled all together. It has been a really sad time for brides and for many it has taken away the excitement of planning their special day. We have been doing all we can and have organised virtual appointments, but it’s just not the same. However, with the vaccination programme things are looking more positive and people are now starting to think about the future.
As Haltwhistle is so close to Hadrian’s Wall a lot of the town’s income comes from holidaymakers, so the whole town has been affected over the last 12 months with fewer visitors coming, but the local trade did help to keep us going.
"The time for independent retailers is now and we need to take full advantage of that."
What about the future of your business?
Coronavirus has made us change the way we run the business, we introduced click and collect and a local delivery service and we are now much more active on social media. I hope the new trend of people shopping locally continues. Local businesses need to make sure they are offering something that is in demand in their area.
The time for independent retailers is now and we need to take full advantage of that.