‘Visit us in person’: Northampton business owner pleads as shop faces restructure on six year anniversary

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The owner of Driftwood Vintage Furniture is calling on shoppers to support small businesses by browsing in store instead of online

Kingsthorpe based-business, Driftwood Vintage Furniture, is turning six-years-old this month but owner, Phillip Lyman, does not feel like celebrating.

For small business owners dotted all over the country, it has been one setback after another, trundling through the Covid-19 pandemic and forced closures as a result of three national lockdowns and now rising bills brought on by the cost of living crisis.

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Phillip told Chronicle & Echo that a huge drop in customer footfall combined with rising costs means that he has been forced to implement a major restructure of his vintage furniture store in Cecil Road.

Driftwood Vintage Furniture in Cecil Road, Kingsthorpe.Driftwood Vintage Furniture in Cecil Road, Kingsthorpe.
Driftwood Vintage Furniture in Cecil Road, Kingsthorpe.

The 34-year-old business owner said: “It is mixed emotions because I want to celebrate and spread joy, however, the reality of what is happening with the energy companies, it is just not viable to continue things as they currently are.

“I would love to celebrate but I just don't know what the future holds.”

Phillip said that government support was “barely enough” to scrape through the pandemic and with inflation now at 10.1 percent - according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - his energy bills have skyrocketed to four times what they were in January alone.

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In December 2021, Phillip’s energy bill for the business was £288. This week, Phillip received a letter stating that his energy bill for December 2022 is projected to be more than £1,100.

Prices may continue to soar as the Bank of England has said inflation could peak at over 13 percent this year.

Phillip said: “What people haven’t realised is that expenditure for a small business like myself is both at the business and at home - so we are experiencing double the rises without any additional help as being self employed.”

In a bid to meet the demands of rising costs, Phillip is having to sell off most of his stock as he considers the future of his business and worries he may not be able to afford to put on his popular Christmas workshops and free woodland light show for children.

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His wreath-making workshops usually attract around 180 people in the community.

To help independent businesses survive the cost of living crisis, Phillip is calling on customers to carry out their shopping in store rather than online.

He said: “It is about the services we give in person which we can’t give when sat behind a screen. When they are in a shop, they buy the person, the business, the service and the trust. They can ask for honest advice.”

Phillip added that it is also beneficial when customers share business’ posts on social media as that is how most new customers discover his store.

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The owner of Driftwood Vintage Furniture continued: “People have been conditioned into shopping online for convenience. That is great but it does not keep bricks and mortar going and that is why we are losing these high street stores and they won’t be coming back. It is a chain effect really - when a store closes, it is not long before more close due to a drop in footfall.

“It is important that we take action now rather than wait for the next bill rise.”