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Shop local: Second lockdown long-term effects ‘detrimental’, say Rainham shopkeepers

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 November 2020 | UPDATED: 17:07 06 November 2020

Aaron's Surplus Navy and Army supplies with Christopher Hajaig and his son. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

Aaron's Surplus Navy and Army supplies with Christopher Hajaig and his son. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

Ricci Fothergill

Shopkeepers in Rainham are worried about what the future holds.

Councillor Jeffrey Tucker outside his Rainham Goldmine Jewellery shop. Picture: Ricci FothergillCouncillor Jeffrey Tucker outside his Rainham Goldmine Jewellery shop. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

For Christopher Hajaig of Aaron’s Surplus Army and Navy, “the long term is detrimental”.

“During the previous lockdown we were still only 40 per cent down, but that combined with the Covid impact later on, the dig-ups and closures of the road, has made our situation a lot worse.”

Classified as a non-essential shop, Christopher argues that he supplies essentials for key workers such as boots for firefighters, hi-vis for workmen and uniforms which will need replacing as they continue to work through the pandemic.

He said: “At the end of the day businesses can control their intake of customers, it [the lockdown] is nonsensical.

Clemence Smith outside the Rainham Cobbler. Picture: Ricci FothergillClemence Smith outside the Rainham Cobbler. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

“We’ve gone beyond the Covid regulation requirements, giving out free masks to customers and more. It’s so unfair that the government is going to throw this on us.

“I’m very frustrated, I’d rather stay open, do my bit, not take the government handout and get through it.”

Although Aaron’s does have a website and does intend to continue with deliveries and a click and collect service, he says it gets very little traffic through the site.

Mr Hajaig has also applied for a dispensation to stay open, which he hopes will comes through.

Clemence Smith in his shop, the Rainham Cobbler, when there were no other customers inside. Picture: Ricci FothergillClemence Smith in his shop, the Rainham Cobbler, when there were no other customers inside. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

To purchase key worker wear and other uniform essentials at Aaron’s Surplus Army and Navy: www.aaronssurplus.com

Owner of key cutter and shoe repair shop Rainham Cobbler, Clemence Smith says the second lockdown will “knock us right back”.

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“The first lockdown affected me really badly, we were just getting back on our feet.

Inside the army supplies shop. Picture: Ricci FothergillInside the army supplies shop. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

“Business took a long time to pick up again afterwards and now it’s just knocking it all back. They [the customers] are really concerned about leaving their houses, we’ve lost lots of loyal customers through that.

“I am worried about the future, the next lockdown will make a big difference. I have no plans at all, I’m hoping I’m going to get some kind of government help.”

The owner of Rainham Village Dry Cleaners shares the same concerns, worried about how she might pay her rent and whether she will qualify again for government help.

Councillor Jeffrey Tucker, who represents the Rainham and Wennington ward, says although the earnings from his jewellery shop are almost all at Christmas, and the new lockdown could make this “very challenging” in the future, he feels optimistic that the community will pull together to keep the high street buzzing.

Councillor Jeffrey Tucker. Picture: Ricci FothergillCouncillor Jeffrey Tucker. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

“We’ve been through bad times before and we’ll always fight our way through. My priority will still be representing the residents.

“We’ve been well supported by the community for many years, I want to always pay them back for their support in being a councillor.”

Councillor Tucker is also campaigning to pedestrianise Upminster Road which he says will help bring back footfall to the shops.

“I know not everyone is going to be in favour of it but I believe the narrow pavements combined with the HGVs and buses that fly through here make it appear dangerous for families who might like to come and shop safely here.”

Inside Aaron's Surplus.  Picture: Ricci FothergillInside Aaron's Surplus. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

In talks with the council, Mr Tucker says the plan is still in the very early stages and he hopes it could come to fruition in about four years.

“It could draw in boutiques, farmers’ markets and upmarket shops. With everyone parked on the road, it’s still very dangerous, vehicles are just getting wider and wider and we need to make it safe here for families.

“We want to produce something that people come a long way to see. I’ve always believed in the area, we want to live somewhere where there is life, this could really give the village the boost it needs.”


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