Life after Covid-19: ‘The future is independent businesses’
PUBLISHED: 09:39 10 November 2020
A positive outcome of the pandemic is the significant rise in community spirit; people are coming together to help each other in these challenging times. One way people have shown their support is by buying from local, independent businesses.
An advocate of small businesses is Doug Hill, owner of The Gauntlet, a charmingly unique shopping thoroughfare in the heart of Glastonbury. You won’t find any chain stores here – it’s all about giving start-up, entrepreneurial shops the chance to thrive, which they hope to continue, regardless of Covid-19.
We spoke to Doug, who shares how The Gauntlet plans to bounce back after the lockdown and what he sees for its future.
Q: How are you feeling about the second lockdown and what does this mean for The Gauntlet?
A: After the first lockdown, I was obviously worried about the implications – we had to close completely, and I don’t think anyone quite realised the seriousness of the virus. But, I’m really happy with how we managed the situation. Although we didn’t welcome quite as many tourists, we had so much support from local people and I’m really grateful for that.
We are hoping to get the same outcome after the second lockdown. We have worked closely with our health and safety executive, who will update us on the safety measures that need to be in place to ensure another safe reopening.
Q: What shops can people expect to see once the lockdown is lifted?
A: The best thing about The Gauntlet is that it’s completely one-of-kind, and that’s reflected in the extraordinary shops we have. Each one brings something different. To paint a picture, we have a vegan catering service (Pyramid Catering), an Egyptian shop (The Enclosure of the Sun), Sons of Asgard magical emporium and even a Viking shop called Midgard Craft – the man who runs it is a Viking himself! We also have a couple of clothes shops, a jewellery store (Silver Scene), Kevin Pearson’s photography studio and the well-known psychic Michael Pascoe has made The Gauntlet his home for tarot card readings.
Some businesses use us as the first step in their journey before moving on. Because of this, the shopping experience for customers is constantly refreshing and we always have new shops for you to explore.
Q: What’s so special about The Gauntlet?
A: Aside from the incredible variety of stores, it’s a significant gateway to the town of Glastonbury, in a historic and literal sense. It encapsulates the deep history of the area that many people don’t know about, and as it’s directly located between the main car park and high street, it provides easy access to the town centre. In 2008, we won the LABC Building Excellence Awards held by Mendip District Council - we then went on to fly the flag for Glastonbury and Mendip to win the regional awards held in Torquay, which officially make us the best in the west. We were only beaten in the nationals by Wembley Stadium! We’re incredibly proud of our achievements.
What really sets us apart is the personal and friendly service. It’s a shopping area based on community – visitors build close relationships with shop owners and other local people. I think this community spirit is what got us through the first lockdown and is hopefully going to bring us out the other side of this second one.
We’re always striving to be different; if there’s something new that could enhance our customer’s and shop owners experience, we’ll get it. We’re actually now developing a robot to explain the history of the site and The Gauntlet to visitors, and to use as a sales assistant in Glastonbury Retail Lettings.
Q: Is there anything people can do to support The Gauntlet during lockdown?
A: A lot of the shops are operating online at the moment. Check out our list of current shops and visit their websites and social media pages to learn more.
Visit www.thegauntletglastonbury.com for more information. Contact them on 0203 039 3837.
Find them at 21 The Gauntlet, St Johns Square Glastonbury BA6 9QL.