Businesses new and old in North Yorkshire are ready to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions on Monday (17 May).
And our Buy Local website is continuing to help them by offering a one-stop shop to link residents to retailers and businesses serving the county.
County Council Leader Cllr Carl Les said: “For more than a year now, our North Yorkshire Buy Local website has been helping businesses and customers find and support each other. It will be a key part of our support for businesses during the recovery and I encourage any that have not yet registered on the site to do so.”
From Monday, pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants will be able to serve indoors, entertainment and attractions can re-open, along with remaining accommodation. Up to 30 people can also get together for weddings and other significant life events.
As the country continues to follow the Government’s roadmap back to normality, one North Yorkshire resident, Ellie Hutton, has found herself with a blossoming new business.
Last spring, she returned to the Esk Valley after working at a ski season in Europe with plans to continue travelling after the summer – plans that had to be scrapped as the world went into lockdown. But Ellie seized the opportunity to put her creative skills to good use as a self-taught florist, displaying her imaginative creations on social media, where she found an appreciative audience wanting to buy them.
Initially, she worked with flowers harvested from relatives’ gardens but has gone on to buy from local producers, helping to create a chain that supports the wider local economy.
As well as her social media connections, Blooms By Ellie has signed up to Buy Local, a free advertising directory set up by the County Council for local businesses. The site enables customers to search for anything they need, and discover fantastic independent businesses on their doorstep.
In future, Ellie aims to focus more on the wedding trade, with her first two lined up for early June, as well as working with other businesses in the area, like restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts, a development which should also help the district’s business community grow together during the pandemic recovery.
She is also looking to branch out into workshops to pass on her skills and ideas to others and an early trial with friends at the River Garden cafe in Sleights suggests they will be successful. On a trip to Whitby afterwards, those wearing the flower crowns they had made found themselves repeatedly asked by passers-by where they had bought them.
Ellie is hopeful the next stage in the roadmap will provide opportunities for her business to flourish: “I think when people start to see their friends and relatives, word of mouth will help to continue the ball rolling.
“At the moment people are just going off the pictures I have done of gifts bouquets and things like that, because so far I have not done any weddings. Hopefully, it will just get bigger and bigger. I definitely want to specialise in weddings and larger scale events.”
Even for long-established businesses the pandemic has been a huge challenge, but for a recently revamped bistro, it could have been a recipe for disaster.
Kerry Marie’s Bistro has a long history, but after taking over in 2019, Kerry Robson was determined to put her own stamp on the Richmond venue, matching her work in the kitchens with her name above the door.
That was less than 12 months before lockdowns and restrictions tested her resilience to the limit – though now Kerry Marie’s Bistro is gearing up to re-open, with a hope the summer will provide the opportunity to cement the business in the heart of the community.
Lockdown restrictions left the bistro, like many others in the hospitality sector, with no option but to close, and providing a takeaway service was not a viable option.
The furlough scheme meant staff were still getting an income during lockdown and although some left to find other work after the first enforced closure, the team she re-assembled last summer has remained with her and will be back in their familiar roles when the doors open again on May 19.
Getting back to normal will take time for all businesses and she appealed to customers to be “kind and patient” as staff work within the current safety regime.
That involves guiding customers to their place with social distancing in place, providing hand sanitisers, a full table service for drinks and facilities to record their presence, either through the Government’s app or manually on a clipboard.
Kerry is taking advantage of all avenues to attract customers, including signing up to North Yorkshire’s Buy Local website.
Strong trade this summer will benefit more than just Kerry and her staff, because she sources ingredients from suppliers in the region, including meat from a butchery business “less than a stone’s throw” from the kitchen where she will prepare the produce.
Her team is eager to get back to work and has already held ‘virtual’ staff meetings, with Kerry describing them as “amazing”.
“They can’t wait to get back. All we want now is to get back to normality,” she said.
Cllr Les said: “Ellie and Kerry’s businesses are great examples of how the next step of the roadmap will benefit so many more businesses in the supply chain. As the hospitality industry springs back into life and more family events can go ahead, businesses that supply these industries can hopefully feel some optimism and relief as wholesale orders start to come back in.”
The Federation of Small Businesses for North Yorkshire represents more than 4,000 businesses in North Yorkshire and York.
Development Manager Carolyn Frank said: “We are really pleased to see that confidence amongst businesses really bounced back this quarter. The ‘SBI’ that we do, the small business index, measures confidence quarterly. It has been obviously very gloomy during Covid, but our recent business confidence report indicates a really positive start, especially for those businesses that have been reopening, and those operating with less restrictions. And it’s really very positive across most sectors.
“And with the tremendous local support, I think it’s important to say thank you to the residents of North Yorkshire. Support for small businesses has just been amazing during the pandemic, and if we can continue that, it’s going to bring those confidence levels with businesses even higher.”
Whether you need a plumber, quality local produce or a box of chocolates, find it on Buy Local.
Many businesses on the site have gone out of their way to help their customers during the pandemic, so please keep supporting them, and those that can reopen their doors from Monday