“I just thought we wouldn’t make it” – new businesses discuss Covid-19 struggles
Business, News | Rhys Williams | Published: 15:15, Thursday August 27th, 2020.
Last updated: 15:18, Thursday August 27th, 2020
With the world’s economy currently at the mercy of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been a tough year for many businesses, not least the ones which started during the uncertainty.
Aviary – a 1920s-themed cocktail bar on Cardiff Road, Caerphilly town – and Gilfach’s Portuguese-inspired pie shop, Hancox’s Pies, are among the businesses to have opened during these troubled times.
Aviary owner Calvin Evans-Morgan said opening during the current circumstances was “hard”.
Mr Evans Morgan said: “It’s been my dream to open a cocktail bar for years and years. I viewed this premises a number of times and I finally took the plunge and went for it.
“There were long negotiations and I signed a lease the day before lockdown, and I just thought we wouldn’t make it.”
The business, which employs six, held its socially-distanced official opening on August 14, but had originally planned to open in March.
Mr Evans-Morgan said: “It took a while – our suppliers weren’t working, we couldn’t do this, we couldn’t do that, so everything has delayed it.
“We can finally open, but with all the precautions in place.
“We’re at half capacity, and for someone who’s made no money in the last five months, it is very hard.”
But Mr Evans-Morgan said the feedback he’s received from customers has been “really positive”.
Sandra Wong, who works at Aviary, said the circumstances had been “overwhelming”, but was looking forward to a brighter future.
Ms Wong said: “We need to keep our heads up high and look forward to next year.”
Despite the uncertainty during the early stages of lockdown, Ms Wong said they were able to “take advantage” of the extra time they had before opening, and further develop ideas about how the business will operate.
Meanwhile in Gilfach, Alexandre Hancox opened a new pie shop during the pandemic.
Hancox’s Pies, which is on Commercial Street, opened in July, and is inspired by the recipes of Mr Hancox’s Portuguese mother.
Mr Hancox, 40, had been making the pies at home and delivering them to customers, but during lockdown decided to open a shop to cope with an increased demand.
He said: “At the beginning, I did question if I would be able to do this, but we’ve had many orders. We already have more than 3,500 people on our Facebook page.
“We’re hoping to be even busier after coronavirus. Some people are still unsure whether they should go out.”
Mr Hancox said there had been a positive response to the opening of his shop.
Ben Francis, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Wales, said: “We don’t yet know what the impact of coronavirus will be on the economic landscape in the longer term, and, in turn, whether this will lead to people starting up on their own because of a lack of opportunities in the job market.
“What we do know, is that Wales is a nation of entrepreneurs who make a huge contribution to our economy, and that there must be significant support for self-employment from Welsh Government in order to help provide a bridge for those who might choose to move from employment to working for themselves.”
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