Dropping off a donation of soaps to Salford Royal Hospital nurses during the Covid-19 pandemic inspired the owners of Walkden gift shop Clouds to offer a delivery service to all their customers.
Delivery organiser Rebecca Lees has been “absolutely astonished” at the customer support for the business, which was established by her parents more than 25 years ago.
Making the donation gave the family the idea to adapt to cope with lockdown by introducing a home delivery service of their extensive range of bath, body and home fragrance products.
“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 times over the past year, the couple found themselves delivering products four days a week.
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, they are as involved as ever, and still go to work at the shop every day.
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.”
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.”
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.”