Carrickfergus business owner Anita McCabe has told of how customers came into her store and cheered when it reopened following its initial closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anita opened The Mulberry Bush, a baby and children’s boutique and gift shop, last October and had been enjoying great success until the pandemic hit.
However, Anita explained that the two weeks after reopening were “as busy as the fortnight before Christmas”.
“The day we reopened, people actually came in and cheered. It has been really uplifting to feel the community spirit and the store is starting to feel like a real go-to destination in the town centre again,” she said.
Anita’s statements come as Mid and East Antrim Borough Council rolls out its #RediscoverMEA campaign, which aims to shine a light on local businesses and encourage locals to give them the support they deserve.
Anita was eager to ensure her customers didn’t forget about her business during lockdown. Whilst The Mulberry Bush had not previously been trading online, she was quick to set this up through her Facebook page and eventually offering same day delivery as restrictions began to ease.
“It was important for me to try and keep my business going, even during lockdown, not just for myself but for my customers too. I spend a lot of time sourcing my products that customers now know they can’t get elsewhere. It was encouraging to have so many people contacting me and requesting certain products during lockdown,” Anita continued.
A stockist of some much-loved brands including Peter Rabbit and Kite Clothing, now that the store has reopened, Anita has been careful to take all the necessary safety precautions and hopes to provide reassurance to potentially anxious customers.
“Safety is a big thing for us,” she explained. “Being a small, local business means we can cater for those who are nervous to go to large shopping centres. We have installed sanitiser stations in store and also provide gloves for customers to handle clothing.”
Having opened the store following major surgery, Anita describes The Mulberry Bush as her “passion project,” one which became her motivation throughout recovery.
Anita believes that more people need to “take a leap of faith” and open up local businesses.
“The town needs a heart. Similarly, if local people want to have local shops then they must get out and support local traders.”
Councillor Peter Johnston, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, said: “Local businesses are a fundamental aspect of our town centres – they are crucial to the recovery of our local economy in the wake of the pandemic. It is fantastic to see those such as The Mulberry Bush showing such resilience and providing an important service to the wider community.
“It is important that we continue to support our local traders and suppliers at this time.”
The Mulberry Bush is located at 16 Market Place in Carrickfergus’ town centre and is open Monday to Saturday.