Justina talks to Annabel about how the concept of "Indie Devizes" came about, and describes how this show of mutual support has benefitted the independent retailers and wider community of Devizes. 

so Hello, Christina. Hello. Thank you for joining me today. Just to let you know I've just started recording our conversation, right

Oh. So would you like to start off with a little bit about what indie devices is? Um, and how it came about? Yeah, sure. So, um, during the first lockdown, um, the healthy life in devices was open

And, um, I just felt really bad for all of my fellow retailers, and and and many of them are friends. And I just, uh, we we put a shout out on Facebook to say, Is there anyone out there that could work with me to create something for the retailers? And, of course, Ida McDonald came forward, and, uh, she had done a website called indie devices dot org dot UK and Gemma. Um, a local lady came forward, and so we just started playing around with ideas of how to support, uh, our retailers and how to support each other

And that's sort of how it started. Um, kind of probably may June of last year. Um, and then we also work together to create, um, basically an event when we we actually came out of lockdown

um, and did a trail around town so that people could celebrate all the different retailers that were in different parts of town. It was a It was a lovely day. And I think it's just what everyone needed at the time

Yeah, it Well, that's a fantastic idea. So just really to support all the fellow independent shops around town as we were coming out. Lovely

Um, so as individuals, What kind of difficulties have shopkeepers and retailers faced throughout the last year? Well, I think different retailers have faced different things. You've had the shops that have been open and the shops that are closed for those that have been closed. What the retailers have had to do is is really completely look at their whole business and find new ways of, uh, income streams of revenue streams

So whether that's, um, putting in a website using social media much more to show people items for sale, putting in delivery services, and in fact, um, we we looked at could we put in a delivery service in town for those retailers instead of having lots of cars going around. But what they said certainly during lockdown is that it's really important for them to have contact with some of their customers now. Some of these customers might be people that, um that's all they see, you know, they might see the shopkeeper taking something to their house or the postman

Um, it's been so lonely for people. But if if shopkeepers don't adapt and aren't flexible, then it's going to be long term, quite difficult for them. For shopkeepers that are open

You've got another set of circumstances to deal with because you've got a range of emotions that not only you have but also the public have now whether it's anxiety, stress, uh, being angry, frustrated You've got all of these emotions Now, as a shopkeeper, um, you're playing a dance all the time with the general public. Um, you know you like on on a stage now you can't always be your best, either. Uh, you might be suffering from anxiety or stress or frustrations, and I think it's been a little bit rough where some people have just have no patience at all with their shopkeepers

You know they want it now, et cetera. But then there's been the other aspect where extreme joyfulness and laughter and giggling and sharing, um, the space with somebody. And so there's There is a whole whole range of emotions, but it is certainly difficult to be perfect 100% of the time

In the public's eye, of course, of course. Uh, it's lovely that you talk there about the connection that the retailers want to maintain with the individuals that their customers and how important that is to them. Um, really wonderful, Uh, and it sounds like there's been a lot done

Yeah, not with the devices not only to support each other's businesses, but also with the the individuals, the people who are the customers, but also part of the community. Do you think there's anything that, um, retailers and businesses have come up with over the last year that they might like to continue to help us stay strong for the community and be more inclusive, such as some of these methods they come up with to help people who are stuck at home or can't get out as much as other people? Yeah, well, from the retailers point of view, I I think we are certainly definitely stronger as a as a unit. Uh, to have sort of open days and little events and just to bring some joy, um, to our to our community and our own little ways

I mean, there's also things that, um we're looking forward to longer term things, like possibly bringing an electric cargo bike so that we can do deliveries and become more sustainable and stuff like that. But, um, yeah, I think we're all talking behind the scenes, you know? What can we do next? How can we help each other? Um, what have we learned? You know, there might be some retailers that actually have become wizards at websites or or on social media while somebody else, um, it isn't particularly a thing could be helped in that way. So I think training courses and stuff like that might be might be something that comes out of it as well

Yeah, that's lovely. It's really lovely to hear because we're really, um, as part of this Tel town project. We do think a lot about some of the people who face isolation before the pandemic, you know, because they haven't been able to get out and about due to mobility issues or anything else that might be going on with them, and it's lovely to hear that they've been thought about

And now that some of these plans are in place, they might look to continue. And, um and it's also lovely to hear that you guys have been thinking about people's emotions. As you said, we're all we're all humans, which is it is very true with different things that are going on ourselves

Um, and some people who've not been out for a whole year, who might start to come out soon. I'm sure they're very much looking forward to being able to come back and talk to their their very, um, the places they visit more regularly in real life. Yeah, And I I think, um, one thing also that is important to mention is that the shopkeepers have really made their their spaces safe and also welcoming

Um, and if, for example, somebody can't get into a particular shop because of, uh, mobility issues, then the shopkeeper will come outside and help them. Um, you know, we are here for everybody. Um, and I know at the healthy life, we do have a lot of people that come in

We have some quite elderly customers. Um, we will shut the shop for that person if it makes them feel more comfortable so that they are nurtured and looked after, um, as a as a kind of stepping stone back into society. And we're very, very happy to play that role

That's absolutely fantastic. And do you? Is that just something that's come about through the pandemic? And if so, do you think it's something that can continue afterwards for people who still don't feel comfortable? Well, we've always been, uh, I think it was done through healthy ages as a safe place. Um, as a poster in the in the window, we're considered a safe space

Um, so it's something that we've kind of always done and will continue to do. Community is everything. That's really lovely

Well, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us today and tell us. But the experience of, um, this community campaign indeed devises it's exciting to see where it might lead to the future as well. Um, is there anything else you'd like to add of it before we say goodbye? No

Just thank you ever so much. Uh, annabelle for for inviting us. OK, fantastic

Thanks then. Bye.

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