Meet Jane Burns who runs her family-run business, Just Flowers, on Main Street in Haltwhistle.
My family has had a business in Haltwhistle for more than 50 years. Originally we had a fruit and veg shop as well as a flower shop. I can remember coming into the shop from about the age of 7 and helping out. When I eventually took over I decided I wanted to focus on the florists, and I have been doing that for 40 years now and I love it.
How has your business changed during Coronavirus?
We have been really busy, but sadly a lot of that has been arranging flowers for funerals. It has been a really difficult time for everyone in the area and I have struggled with it some days. A lot of the time the people who have passed away are people who you know in the community and that has been very hard to cope with. I have also had staff members who have come down with the virus so that has been difficult to manage as well. I would say about 90% of our business in the last year has been Covid-related. On the difficult days I just had to focus on the business and getting through it.
There have been some nicer moments with people wanting to send flowers to family and friends to say they are missing them, or people wanting to send bouquets to people on their birthday when they haven’t been able to see them.
We also started a delivery service during Coronavirus. I have been offering a Shop-to-Door service which is not something we have done before but I am definitely going to keep it going. We have also done a lot more on social media to keep customers up to date with what we are doing.
"Originally we had a fruit and veg shop as well as a flower shop. I can remember coming into the shop from about the age of 7 and helping out. When I eventually took over I decided I wanted to focus on the florists, and I have been doing that for 40 years now and I love it."
Do you think people’s shopping habits have changed since the pandemic?
I think more people want to Shop Local and support their local businesses. I have had lots of new customers who have told me that normally they would have bought flowers online, but they decided to support my business because they can see how smaller retailers have been suffering. I also think people now realise that supporting local does mean, in most cases, a better quality of product and a customer service which is second to none.