You think Christmas shopping is hard work? What it's like for Whitchurch's businesses

Reporter:

Barrie White

We all know doing that Christmas shopping was hard. You had to go around the shops and do whatever it is you needed to do.

But have you ever thought about the faces opposite you when you’re grabbing your last-minute bargain or, more importantly, boxing off the most important things – food, the wreath and the refreshments.

Herald reporter Barrie White spoke to three businesses, making his way down from one end of the High Street to the other and asked how they coped with Christmas week.

First up is Chloe Everall, 28, owner of White Wysteria opposite the Civic Centre, and as a one-woman band, the build-up was especially hectic.

“I started thinking about Christmas at the end of September, maybe early October,” she said. “As I only opened the shop this year, I wasn’t sure how busy I was going to be. I had nothing to go on as it’s my first business, so a couple of months preparation was sufficient.

“The projections I’ve made have come purely from me and my head, based on the last six months of business. We’ve had loads of repeat customers and people coming in and asking for things before Christmas.

“I’m a fully-qualified florist. I was trained up in Manchester for three years. I don’t have any staff at the moment but hopefully next year.

“I was so busy in the week leading up to Christmas, working 14-hour days. I went to market at 5am, straight to the shop and then didn’t get home until 9pm.

“I definitely enjoyed my Christmas Day – I was at my mum’s for Christmas with my partner and all of my family. It was nice to relax.”

Next stop is Trevor Fowles, who is one of the most popular and long-standing fixtures in the High Street and faced the busiest week of the year.

He said: “Preparation is last minute for me – I kept it as late as possible and only started doing everything I needed to int he week building up to Christmas.

“It’s for the freshness and it’s what my reputation is built on. The beef was hanging in my fridge for a month before they were ready to sell to customers in the week leading up to it.

“The turkeys only came in on Thursday and I spent the the next few days getting rid of them. That week is ridiculously busy for me and what’s made it worse was this year, it was a full week building up to Christmas Day.

“But then again, it’s always busy because I leave it last minute. We do everything ourselves here – we make our own sausages, we bone out our own beef, everything was just mad.

“People wanted turkeys rolling too, then the hotels wanted their food as well. It’s hectic times but I enjoy it so much , even after 30 years. I secretly look forward to it – it’s stressful, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t sleep until Christmas Eve once I knew everyone got their orders.

“The latest turkey I’ve ever sold is 9pm on Christmas Eve in the pub as someone’s husband had burnt their original. We try to look after everyone – it’s the most important meal of the day and we don’t want to knacker it for everyone.”

Finally, we come to one of the most popular destinations in town; Benjamin’s Deli and Cafe, owned by Rachel Cartwright with her husband Ric.

“That Christmas week goes through the roof – it’s the busiest one we have but it’s a combination of all of our regular customers but also the cheese business for Christmas Day, plus our hampers,” she said.

“It’s that side of things that become more busy. We start worrying about this around the beginning of November and our preparation is around the correct number of cheeses or wines, or the condiments that go with it.

“Plus the hampers themselves which we buy empty and then we either will sell ready made or customers can be choose how they want it.

“We’ve been at Benjamin’s since around October 2012 but both of us been in the catering business for many years. We’re young enough as a business to try new things, innovate and adapt.

“Being in the centre of town is always good; we’ve got some really good customers who come back day-after-day plus we have the takeaway sandwich service.

“We opened on Christmas Eve which is rare as we don’t open on a Sunday, but we still had customers coming in. But we closed yesterday and today too because the girls have got families of their own and we all need that time for yourself, which got ourselves on Christmas Day at friends.”

Email:

barrie.white@nwn.co.uk

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