Chester Health Store on Bridge Street row opened in 2014 and has been the only shop trading on the rows since lockdown in March. We spoke to owner Niki Davies over the phone about how she has coped, adapting to this strange new world
Hi Niki how are you ?
I’m good thanks, the worlds ok. I’m off today, just doing some painting at home. We are open every day apart from Sunday 11 til 3.
How have the last 50 days been ?
Its not been too bad. There have been days like Monday, where we had one customer, but having said that on Sunday I went out and did two home deliveries. We are probably doing as many mail order and home deliveries as we are customers in the shop, Home delivery is a totally new thing for us. We were finding first class deliveries were taking 1-3 days and given that most of our customers are Chester, Wirral, North Wales, we decided to offer the delivery service.
What products have been popular ?
As you can imagine anything to do with cleaning, liquid soap, hand soap, sanitisers, we have an amazing essential oil blend of 5 essential oils which are all anti viral. Other hand sanitisers are just anti bacterial , which is great because it gets people washing their hands, but these are anti viral, they’ve been flying out. Another really popular thing is D3, one of the cheapest vitamins going, but the Government are recommending that as we’ve all been stuck inside, to take a D3 supplement.
What has the atmosphere been like in the city? What else have you observed ?
The atmosphere has been good, I make a point of when I’m coming from the car park, of saying “good morning” to everyone. Most people will reply, some will look at you as if you’ve got 3 heads, but I still do it. The one thing that’s annoyed me is that you see so many posts on facebook and twitter, people complaining there are lots of people out, and Frodsham street, this and that. But people seem to forget , you have Tesco on Frodsham street, Iceland, the Pound Shop. In most of the cases people are just getting shopping. You’ll get people taking a rest on the benches occasionally, but its not as if we’re all out there for a jolly.
When its been quiet, I’ve done a lot of cleaning and preparation for when there are more customers out and about, making people feel safe and secure. I have had some new signs about social distancing and we have arrows on the floor. Hopefully tomorrow the counter screens should arrive. That’s me thinking, maybe customers will want a bit more reassurance. It was tough deciding whether to stay open, whether to do less days a week, but my feeling is we just had to be here for people that need us. Quite a lot of customers rely on supplements from us, instead of going to the Doctors and be on prescription medicine. We are just doing our bit.
How have you felt regards the sense of community in the city, with a lot of things migrating online ?
Its been tough because I’m the only shop on the rows that has stayed open. Up until last week when 5 Guys reopened , it has been quite lonely. With 5 Guys, there has been a steady queue outside so it has not been quite as lonely.
I think the city has reacted well from what I’ve seen on social media, there is at least 4 new facebook groups for different aspects of the city, different businesses, so I think we have come together really well.
You have been living at the heart of an historic moment in the city’s long history. How has that felt ?
Well I think the fact that I’m the only shop on the rows to remain open during the 2020 pandemic , I’m going to remember it for years to come! Its only a tiny thing but its another accolade for my shop!
How do you view the future with the lockdown being partially lifted ?
I have always got an annoyingly positive attitude, from what I’ve experienced in the shop, I would say the futures good, because we have had so many new customers, people I have posted to, delivered to, or people out on their daily exercise passing by. I have a sign down below, saying we are still open, and that’s helped.
How do view the city’s future overall , many are expecting a big economic fallout ?
I think it will be tough, but we will have to wait and see. I have got some concerns about the financing of the Northgate development and the financing. Zizzi, the restaurant chain are looking a bit dubious. I hope it goes ahead in some part. Overall I think the city will carry on and we’re gonna thrive.
Chester Health Store , thanks for your time
Please come and buy from me , and don’t forget to wash our hands!