Shops and businesses around Ireland have suffered over the last 12 months as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
Other than the words COVID-19 and two metres, phrases such as ‘support your local’ have gained popularity in this timeframe.
The economy, in general, has suffered both in Ireland and globally but one economy that we have seen first hand suffer is the local economy.
Some local stores around Ireland have even been forced to close for good but Central Shoes have been lucky enough to remain open while being able to rely on online trading during restrictions.
Assistant Manager of Central Shoes Limerick Ciara Egan spoke about how they have been so lucky to keep their doors open and all their staff through the pandemic.
“It is hard to have to see all of your hard work close down. It is upsetting. You worry about those businesses that can be open but are not open.”
Central Shoes was known before as City Central Shoes and with the pandemic came a complete rebranding for the shop. The shop is owned by Dion Zerafa and Niamh Whelan husband and wife who first had their shop in Kilrush Co. Clare, only to see it move to Bedford Row in Limerick City several years later.
As this shop is family-owned there was more of a determination not to let the doors with years of experience close due to the global crisis, but it has been hard, nonetheless.
“It is worrying – it is not nice. The vibe in town when you walk down the street – it is really worrying but I am hoping that soon this will be over, and it will kind of go back to normal and people will start to support local businesses more which I have seen. I have seen people pay that extra bit because it is local even with myself, I want something from Ireland and if it is from Limerick that is even better.”
A rebranding was not the only thing that has changed for Central Shoes growing an online social media presence and seeing their account grow from under one thousand followers to now sitting at over one thousand two hundred followers on Instagram alone.
Ciara Egan has worked hard to build this social media account to the success it now sees today.
This has helped boost online sales and has been one of the main reasons the doors of Central Shoes remain closed but soon to be opened once restrictions lift again.
Egan has noted an increase in appreciation for Ireland’s local businesses during the pandemic.
“I have definitely noticed people are appreciating local business more which is really nice as well it is nice to get the recognition as a local business. There is a lot of work that goes into it especially with a small team. I have seen lots of videos online of people reacting to online sales and even myself I count the sales at night, I could wake up at two in the morning and see how our online sales are going. It is a constant thing that all management and staff think about and it is always appreciated.”
The sales themselves have “tripled” and are increasing every month with the store gaining over 500 positive reviews on Trustpilot.
“It has given a lot of people social trust so that they can see we are an actual physical store as well as online, so it has definitely helped people to buy online from us organically. It has given us a lot of traffic which is particularly good, and it was very much needed.”
As the uncertainty of this pandemic never ceases to be unanswered the strength and unity of communities are evident in the case of Central Shoes.
Although the local economy has suffered tremendously engaging with a local business online will help their doors stay open longer.
Make it your business to support your local businesses by liking commenting and sharing their content online.