FOR one reason or another, Chepstow's main shopping areas at Moor Street and St Mary Street saw a drop in footfall pre-lockdown, but a trio of business owners have come forward to thank consumers for their custom through what has been a seriously challenging two months.

Matt Trim, of Trim’s Town Gate Butchery on Moor Street, says he has seen a rise in the number of people coming through his doors each week, and he is now almost fully booked.

Trim’s is currently operating a two-in-two-out service, as well as deliveries on a Tuesday and a Thursday, which Mr Trim says is “at capacity”.

Free Press Series: Matt TrimMatt Trim

“It has been unbelievable how many customers have supported me,” he said. “I feel lucky that I’ve been able to stay open. I don’t know whether it’s because the supermarkets are so busy or people are starting to think differently about using independent stores, but I’ve seen lots of new faces too.”

He isn’t the only one seeing an influx in customers. Jeordan Renouf – owner of the CodFather Fish and Chip Shop, says he has been inundated with orders.

“We were quite lucky we’d just signed up to Just Eat and got everything sorted for that, so we have been able to do lots of orders,” he said.

Free Press Series: Jeordan RenoufJeordan Renouf

Mr Renouf, who opened for the first time for visiting customers since March on Monday, says he has had so many orders that he didn’t have enough drivers to deliver the meals, and had to start delivering the food himself.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” he added, “it’s given me a chance to get out the shop and get to know people. I think people have made more of an effort to support us through this time, and I think as visible business owners we have a chance to give something back to our communities as well.

“One elderly woman told me I am the only person she sees in lockdown when I deliver the food. It’s a chance for us to do a bit more and go the extra mile.”

Mr Renouf is certainly going the extra mile, and is also offering a 20 per cent discount for all key workers.

Matt Taylor at Chepstow Books and Gifts, thought the shop could be in for a gruelling time given that it wasn’t allowed to open in lockdown, but he has been pleasantly surprised.

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“I think we have been lucky that many people seem to have deemed lockdown as a good time to get through some books,” he laughed.

“We’ve been operating a delivery service as well as an ordering service where we leave the books outside for people to collect.

“While we’ve not managed to reach the sales we were achieving before lockdown, we have stayed pretty consistent.”

The lockdown has also offered a chance for Mr Taylor to move most products online and diversify his business, and he says he is now ready to open again when the time comes.

“We’ve managed to get a screen for the till and necessary protective equipment for the staff, and plenty of hand sanitiser too, so we’re all set,” he added.

Life in lockdown hasn’t been as easy for new businesses like Wye Valley Meadery, however.

Mead-crafting brothers Kit and Matthew Newell have put everything into their new venture, and have been desperately unlucky with the timing of the pandemic.

“Pretty much all our plans for 2020 have gone out the window,” Kit said. “We had invested in a tap room at our site at Station Road Industrial Estate, and had lots of plans for events at the meadery, where we wanted to teach people about mead and eco-friendly brewing.”

Free Press Series: Matt (right) and Kit NewellMatt (right) and Kit Newell

All of the pair’s events have been cancelled, and they have also slipped through the cracks of government support, not qualifying because they haven’t been running long enough and pay business rates through their rent package rather than directly, among other reasons.

“We are continuing to sell stuff online which is keeping the lights on,” Kit added, “and I’d like to think once we’re through this period what we are offering will be even more popular.”