The coronavirus pandemic is causing misery and hardship for people across the country – in fact the world.
For independent retailers, having to close their doors is catastrophic, with many fighting to survive.
While government support has been available, for some businesses survival has depended on adapting and pivoting to try to ensure they can still keep trading while their doors are closed.
They include Midlands clothing retailer Albie & Lonnie’s, which has launched an online store to help give people a lift during lockdown.
Albie & Lonnie’s closed the doors of its shop in the heart of Rugby on March 23 following the government’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Since then, the team have been keeping themselves busy ordering new stock for both the menswear and womenswear ranges, rearranging wedding fittings, and planning ways to keep people in Rugby and the surrounding area feeling great and looking good despite such difficult circumstances.
Founder Dave Hall and members of his team have shown off looks via social media and arranged contactless delivery for those who wanted to recreate them for lockdown nights in, virtual parties and ready for when they can go out again.
The support from the local community and those even further afield has led Dave to launch an online shop – meaning people can shop from the independent retailer from the comfort of their homes, no matter where in the UK that is.
“The way people shop has changed – they’ve had no choice,” said Dave. “At Albie & Lonnie’s we’ve always put the face-to-face experience at the heart of everything we do, getting to know our customers and making sure we can suggest outfits, push them out of their comfort zone, and ensure they leave the shop feeling great.
“To keep everybody safe, we haven’t been able to do that. But what we’ve realised is that we can still offer the level of personal service that has become our trademark and look after our customers with the same high standards.
“It may not be quite the same, but through messages, videos, photos, and the power of social media, we’ve been able to suggest new looks, showcase new designs, get to know new customers and really go the extra mile to look after people.
“That’s why we’re launching our online shop. Of course there are more important things than clothes going on at the moment, but everybody is looking for a bit of positivity and our customers have told us that they still want to treat themselves to a new piece of clothing, or plan for special occasions when they can spend time with family, friends and loved ones again, so we want to make that as easy for them to do.”
The Albie & Lonnie’s online store features a full range of menswear, with designers including Marc Darcy, Blend, Casual Friday, MAC Jeans and Guide London.
It will also feature womenswear ranges which launched just before lockdown, including jeans, jumpers, tops, t-shirts, skirts, jackets, dresses and blouses from brands including Denim Hunter, Culture and Dranella.
The only thing that won’t be available online are full three piece suits as they require professional fitting, but Albie & Lonnie’s is already making plans for how it can offer socially-distanced fittings that comply with government restrictions when the time is right.
“We’ll always put that face-to-face service first,” added Dave. “That’s what we’ve built our brand on and it’s what makes Albie & Lonnie’s so special. But we want people to be safe and we want them to be confident so adding an online shop is just an extra service we can provide.
“We’re still real people and will never be just a website, so don’t forget you can call, message, or email us and we’ll help with sizing, suggestions and anything else you need.
“It’s been a tough few months for us and for all of our fellow retailers in towns across the country, but we’ve had huge support from our community of customers and fellow business owners and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone again – especially the brides and grooms who sadly have had to postpone their big day.”