Profile of Churchfield Road's ''Tea Darling"
2020 has been a year that has affected everyone in many different ways.
Businesses have been particularly hard hit and, as we all await the end of lockdown 2 and with Christmas on the horizon, there's no better time to help our local shops.
In the summer the Government launched a shop local week
At the time, Federation of Small Business National Chair Mike Cherry said:
"It’s vital now more than ever that we do what we can to support our local small businesses. The past few months have been among the most difficult that businesses have ever had and as we slowly reopen, the public can help by supporting their local businesses. Whether it’s your local grocer, decorators or florist, they all need the support of their communities in order to survive this crisis and thrive.
Even those businesses who haven’t been able to reopen their stores, or members of the public who are continuing to shield, then shopping online is a great way to still do your part. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy nationwide, but crucially are the cornerstones of our local communities."
Many of Acton's unique shops have had to close at different times this year and forced to find alternative ways to keep operating.
Vintage cafe, Tea Darling on Churchfield Road, opened 2 years ago and was becoming firmly established in the community and beyond, owner Pam Redrup had even been thinking about employing another member of staff.
She tells us how Covid sadly immediately impacted:
I lost a lot of bookings as it was the week before Mother’s Day and that is a very busy time for me as I do afternoon tea. I had sold out and it was very sad having to ring people up and cancel, not only was it a huge disappointment to me but to everyone who was looking forward to celebrating with their mums. I switched to take away via ordering and collection. It was a very worrying time as I had never done take away before, (this was something new to me as I don’t even do take away teas or coffees) as my concept is all about coming into the tea room and taking the time to sit and chat so takeaway was a big challenge.
* What sort of business help did you get? Was it enough?
I got the one off government grant that paid for my rent. I also got a very tiny portion of the £25,000 less that £1000.
* How did you cope through lockdown, did you continue to supply cakes ?
Yes I did cope but take away is very much harder, lots more work. Also as it was a wonderful summer and I did afternoon tea which proved very popular. I am a one women band with a friend who has helped me enormously.
* When you were allowed to reopen, like everyone you must have been so relieved... what arrangements did you make? Were you busy?
People were still a little wary about coming out but it was getting better not to the point it was before but slowly building up. I had to remove a few tables as my tearoom is small and to keep to the social distancing rules. I had to install paper towels and a hands free soap dispenser. I made sure there was hand sanitiser placed at the entrance for people to use when coming in.
* How has Lockdown 2 impacted?
It's had a very big impact as I lost a lot of bookings when people couldn’t meet friends from other households.
* What do you offer now and how can people order?
I still offer my take away cake and afternoon tea but I have also got my Christmas menu up and running. People can also buy gift vouchers which would be something lovely to look forward to.
* Has anything positive come out of this year? What ideas for Christmas presents - would you urge people to shop locally and buy gift vouchers from neighbourhood shops ?
Yes, yes and yes. I hope that this will be the case and if anything good comes out of this COVID I feel it has brought some camaraderie out and I just hope it continues if and when we get back to normality. It has helped bring us together and to see that local small businesses need more help particularly during this time.
Keep eating cake... it’s good for the soul!
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November 29, 2020