Lockdown easing: Wakefield businesses relieved an excited to reopen after 'bumpy' year in business

Businesses across Wakefield have spoken of their 'relief' at reopening, after months of closure.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 6:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 10:45 am

Hairdressers, restaurants and non-essential retail are among hundreds of shops to have reopened today, following months of lockdown.

And thousands of people took to the city centre to make the most of the newly reopened retailers, with long queues forming outside shops, nail bars and barbers.

Amy and Tom Robinson opened The Plant Market, on Cross Square, last July.

Adrian Birden, from Boogie Woogie Bagel Bar on Northgate, said that reopening felt like the first step towards normality.

Tom admits it has been a "bumpy" first year in business, but says the couple have been thrilled by the response of customers on the first day of reopening.

He said: "It's been really busy. We expected it to be quite busy, but it's been even more so than we thought.

"A lot of people are saying they've been walking past while we've been closed and come in today.

"Amy used to run the shop from our kitchen and during the first lockdown it just took off.

Staff at Wah Wah Records on Brook Street said they had been forced to lock the door and restrict customer numbers amid huge demand this morning. Image from 2019.

"People were queueing down our drive and we couldn't move for plants and needed somewhere else to do it from.

"It's been up and down obviously because of Covid, but it seemed to be getting bigger every week."

Adrian Birden, from Boogie Woogie Bagel Bar on Northgate, said that reopening felt like the first step towards normality.

"It's so good," he said. "It's been three or four months that we've been looking forward to this day and it seems to have been forever coming.

Husband-and-wife team Amy and Tom are approaching the first anniversary of their shop The Plant Market. Despite a "bumpy" first few months, they are confident that customers are ready to return.

"I think customers are relieved and I'm certainly relieved to get a bit of normality back."

Staff have worked hard to make sure they abide by all Covid restrictions, as well as providing a fresh new look for their outdoor seating area - which now features a mural by Horbury artist Liam Staniford.

Adrian hopes that the bagel bar will be the perfect haven for people looking to enjoy a moment of peace as shops reopen.

He said: "Obviously being Covid safe is the most important thing and one of the biggest challenges.

"But our little spot that we've got is quite private and you can't always see it from the street, so we have to make sure people are aware of us.

"We're about coffee, bagels and jazz. That's the heart of the business, that's what we do.

"And it's also a chilled, relaxed atmosphere."

Will works at Wah Wah Records on Brook Street, and said the return of customers had been a "surreal" experience.

He said: "We've been opening every morning to do click and collect and deliveries, but this is very different.

"This morning it got to the point we were having to lock the doors and ask people to come back in a few minutes because it was too busy.

"It's weird. We had a couple of people come in and start browsing during lockdown and had to tell them no.

"I've still got that mentality. The sheer volume of people is surreal.

"Last time when we reopened it still felt like any day you could shut again, but this feels a little different.

"It's a change in routine. I think it's going to be a busy few weeks."