Business

Craft shop overcomes the obstacles presented by Covid

When the outlet had to close it switched its attention to building traffic to the website

The last year was challenging for all retail businesses, but Made in Ashford, in the town’s Park Mall had a successful year building the craft community and working together to help and support others.

A punny fridge magnet at £2 is among the merchandise

The shop was able to claim a Government business support grant in the first lockdown which enabled it to improve its website. This made the transition to online sales smoother and led to 385 parcels being sent out in 2020. The website is growing, and there are now more than 370 listings. The shop’s stock covers many items including cards, gifts, jewellery and clothing.

During the first lockdown the social media following for the shop grew by 20%, through the free activity pack downloads for Easter and VE Day, and Halloween, the shop’s fifth birthday and Christmas. Thanks to support from Ashford Borough Council, Print Junction and Craftship Enterprise, almost 300 printed packs were given free to foodbanks.

The community spirit shone through as more than £15,000 was raised by the Ashford, Dover and Folkestone Scrubbers to help them make and distribute PPE to hospitals and care homes during the spring lockdown.

Sarah Mabb, Megan McKay and Melissa Dawkins were able to buy almost 10km of material to make more than 4,000 sets of scrubs, 6,499 scrub hats, 4,691 wash bags, 3,708 scrub masks and 450 PPE surgical gowns, as well as resizing 280 sets of scrubs for William Harvey Hospital.

To stay safe in the pandemic, the group oversaw several craft workshops and held online markets. They also made a face covering for one of the Ashford Snowdog sculptures.

Melissa Dawkins, director of Craftship Enterprise, says: “We’re pleased with how 2020 went, in difficult circumstances. While sales went down by 32%, the shop was closed for 34% of the year, including the last week before Christmas when we have usually done 8% of our annual sales.

“We are excited about 2021 and are looking forward to welcoming people back to the shop when it is safe to do so. If you are crafty and want to get involved with the community, please get in touch with us – info@craftshipenterprise.com.”

Cllr Paul Clokie, portfolio holder for Regeneration and Corporate Property, says: “In this very difficult year we are pleased Made in Ashford has been able to have a good year. It continues to be an example of how a community shop can survive in the regenerated high street.”

To find out more about Made in Ashford visit here.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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