Greetings Today magazine, giving you the bigger picture

Retailer Q&A with Ellie Bartle

Greetings Today speaks to Ellie Bartle, owner of Tigerlillys, Littleover, Derbyshire

Ellie, how are you doing?
I’m absolutely fine, thank you. I’m not self-isolating and I’m not considered to be ‘at risk’ so I’m confident that should I fall ill myself I’ll only experience mild symptoms and recover quickly.

How are you coping with staff levels – ensuring staff are okay and you are abiding by government guidelines? Do you have back-up plans?
Our staff levels are as normal right now. Me and my mum own and run the business together so we only have each other to consider rather than a whole workforce of other staff. We have one other member of staff who works for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning. She isn’t self-isolating and is perfectly happy to carry on working. We have made it clear that should this change she should feel perfectly free to talk to us and we can pick up her hours ourselves until she feels comfortable to return. We’re monitoring government guidelines every day to make sure we can remain open for as long as we’re allowed.

How clear have you found government guidelines so far?
The actual government guidelines have been pretty clear in our situation, but you just have to be aware of rumours surrounding upcoming government guidelines and all other media speculating and hinting constantly. Over-exposure to the media leaves you feeling quite confused and overwhelmed because there’s so much noise about all of this. A daily check on government guidelines and an update on local news is what I’m limiting myself to at the moment.

What’s your social media set-up? Are you finding it useful in connecting with customers?
I use Instagram and Facebook. If I’m honest, I don’t think social media is always a healthy place during difficult times, it can be scary and unsettling with so many different voices and opinions all being flung around, so I’m taking a small step back from it rather than pushing my presence on there at this time. But I’m finding it useful to highlight that we are remaining open and the methods we’re implementing to reassure customers that this is a safe and healthy environment.

What’s your online presence like? Do you plan on boosting your online presence in weeks to come?
I have a website, but it doesn’t have an online shopping section. I don’t plan on changing this or boosting my online presence in any way. The ethos behind Tigerlillys has always been the joy of browsing around a physical small independent shop and providing heart and soul that can’t be computer generated. I believe and trust in that completely. What people need to think about when they’re self-isolating and relying on ordering online is that there are real people behind those computer-based transactions, people who aren’t self-isolating because trips to the Post Office are required to fulfil these online orders.

What are your stock levels like at the moment? And what do you have in place for future stock?
Stock levels are great at the moment. I top up little and often as a rule, so I don’t let stock levels get too low and then place huge orders. I’m confident that I can continue to provide a wide range of cards and gifts throughout these troubled times, even if I can’t justify placing as many orders as I would normally do. Right now, I’m planning for Easter themed cards, gifts and displays, so hopefully these will provide a little spark of sunshine and colour.

How can suppliers help you?
Many suppliers have already been fantastic; offering free carriage on all orders, lowering minimum order values, discounting products, extending credit limits, etc. It’s above and beyond what I expected, especially as all of this affects them just as much as it does us.

How can Greetings Today help you?
It’s just lovely knowing so many want to help, especially as this affects every last one of us in so many ways. This situation may be bringing out the worst in humankind, what with hoarding and over-buying, but it also brings out the best too. Help and kindness is never in short supply.

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