The owners of Walkden gift shop, Clouds, have been discussing customer support as their business has adapted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rebecca Lees has been “absolutely astonished” at the customer support for the business, which was originally set-up by her parents over 25 years ago.

At the start of lockdown, the family came up with idea to adapt and introduce a home delivery service to their customers.

The idea to deliver their extensive range of bath, body and home fragrance products came as a result of a donation of soaps they made to nurses at Salford Royal hospital.

Clouds gift-shop. Image Credit: Jen Riley & Rebecca Lees.

“It got us thinking, ‘wonder if our customers would want us to deliver to them?’”

After a positive reaction to the suggestion on social media, Rebecca, along with her partner Jordan Derbyshire, began delivering their products to areas such as Swinton, Walkden, Tyldesley and Astley.

At some points over the past year, the couple found themselves delivering products four days a week.

Rebecca & Jordan sometimes found themselves delivering four times a week. Image Credit: Rebecca Lees & Jen Riley

Rebecca said: “It took us out into our community and got us seeing our customers.

“It was really flying visits, but honestly, those front doors opened, and we saw beaming faces and had little chats and little catch-ups.

“It was just such a lovely, lovely thing.”

Clouds was originally set up by Barbara and Bill Lees, and their family have owned their shop in Walkden town centre for 11 years.

Despite now being semi-retired, Rebecca says that her parents are just as involved as ever, adding that still come to work at the shop every day.

Clouds is a family-run business. Image Credit: Jen Riley & Rebecca Lees.

Jen Riley, Rebecca’s sister, also helps at the family business when she can.

She said: “The lockdowns have been such a testing time for everybody, and I’m really proud of the way my sister and her partner, along with my parents, have been able to adapt while still trying to offer a smile and support to anyone around them.

“The support of their customers has been truly amazing and they’re a huge part of what makes Clouds such a special place.”

After the series of lockdowns, which also resulted in the creation of a “Click and Collect” service for customers, Clouds was finally able to reopen its doors on April 12.

With the reopening, the shop has temporarily paused the delivery service.

“The moment we feel settled here, we will absolutely re-introduce it.

“I think there is going to be people not ready to shop for quite some time to be honest. If we can offer help for that group of people, then we definitely will.

“They were there for us at the beginning, so we want to be there for them now.”

Clouds have been welcoming back customers since April 12. Image Credit: Jen Riley & Rebecca Lees.

The family have been happy with the reception they have received since the re-opening and the shop has seen a “constant flow” of customers and well-wishers.

Rebecca said: “The support has absolutely been mindblowing – how personal and how caring every single person who has come through this door has been.

“It doesn’t matter if they’ve bought anything, or if they’ve just come to the shop to say hello.

“We want people to leave the shop feeling happy.”

The shop has been adapted in order to adhere to social-distancing guidelines.
Image Credit: Jen Riley & Rebecca Lees.

Rebecca has also seen an influx of social media messages and feedback from loyal customers, all wishing the family well for their reopening.

She added: “You do lose money and we’ve had to change so many things – but all of those things become less important because it actually makes you step back and look at your business and look at what is most important.

“Let’s face it, in any business, the most important things are the people and your customers.”

“We just love being part of this community – we really do. It really does feel like a home away from home.”

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