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Richard Wilson and Sparrows staff are taking new steps in retail.

Richard Wilson and the team at Sparrows have wisely spent part of their time in lockdown preparing for a new future that includes online shopping.

Owner Richard said preparations had included stocktaking the store’s entire range of clothing and staff learning computer skills to match the new online purchase part of their
website.

They plan to hit the first day of Alert Level 2 with a big winter clothing sale instore, and will have their online store up as soon as their tech wizards allow.

Richard said Sparrows’ winter stock had arrived in the days before lockdown and it had been frustrating not to be able to share it with customers in the usual way.

In level 3, he and two other staff members have been in the store fielding telephone calls, selling and delivering goods.

Richard said staff had been delivering clothes on appro, and sales had ranged from shirts to items intended as gifts.

The most popular item in lockdown had been lightweight facemasks made locally by the NZ
Sock Company. He estimates he has sold around 200 so far.

Richard said the 130-year-old business was keen to see customers’ faces again, though it was embracing online sales as a permanent part of doing business in the future.

‘‘Those four weeks in lockdown, we spent working on our business rather than in our business. We’ve spent it getting ready.”

He said the instore experience of ‘‘look, touch, feel and try’’ was still important and a special part of Sparrows’ service. ‘‘But things are changing and we are going positively
into the future. We may be in for a scary time, but we hope locals will support locals.’’

Richard said the store was receiving some rent relief, which had helped finances, and he was working with his bank to keep trading.

This week’s big sale is about generating cashflow and Sparrows, like other businesses all around the district, is keen to see people back on the main street.

He’s missed his customers and having a beer with the boys on a Friday night, but counts himself lucky to have shared some special family time in his bubble.