Open for business as entrepreneurs launch Shifnal companies during coronavirus pandemic

More than half a million UK companies reported being in 'significant stress' due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a quarter of all firms having to temporarily shut.

Mike Dickerson and Paige Buchanan-Jones of Finest Feet Footcare, Leah Sullivan from The Doll House and Chris Jordan and Alex Hemming from Christopher's
Mike Dickerson and Paige Buchanan-Jones of Finest Feet Footcare, Leah Sullivan from The Doll House and Chris Jordan and Alex Hemming from Christopher's

But from the ashes rises the phoenix, and three new businesses in Shifnal decided to take off in the most unusual of circumstances.

Neighbouring establishments Christopher's, Finest Feet Footcare and The Dolls House all emerged during the Covid-19 crisis, with owners hailing their initial opening period a success despite significant challenges.

Christopher Jordan, 29, started as a pot washer in the kitchen of Odfellows Wine Bar in Market Place more than 14 years ago before making his way to head chef.

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Having eyed up his now-restaurant from across the road, he took over Christopher's in April becoming owner and head chef, before opening on July 4.

"We took it over in lockdown not knowing when we could open up – it was a bit of a risk," said Christopher.

"We'd been after this particular place for a while, the building is exactly what we wanted and it's the perfect size.

Chris Jordan and Alex Hemming from Christopher's

"We took it over in April which gave us enough time to paint the whole place, put new equipment in, new glasses, table cloths, the lot.

"I'd never done this before and being a new business, it always takes a bit longer, but we finished everything about a week before opening on July 4."

He added: "It's been amazing so far. We couldn't ask for better support from everybody.

"We've spaced all the tables and have hand sanitising stations. We want to focus on giving diners a personal and safe experience."

Meanwhile, Finest Feet Footcare was a business in Wolverhampton owners say was "plodding along" before being faced with closure due to the pandemic.

Formed 17 years ago by Denise Dickerson, who now runs a training college in Birmingham, the business relocated to Shifnal during the Covid-19 crisis in efforts to prolong its success.

Having taken on director and foot care specialist Mike Dickerson and receptionist Paige Buchanan-Jones, it opened its doors in Shifnal on July 6.

Mr Dickerson, of Finchfield in Wolverhampton, said: "We were plodding along but the pandemic brought everything to a standstill. From that we had a couple of choices and decided to look in Shifnal.

Mike Dickerson and Paige Buchanan-Jones of Finest Feet Footcare

"We took the risk that restarting the business in Shifnal with a different demographic would be a success and luckily enough it was.

"It hasn't been without its challenges but providing everything goes okay from here I can't see it failing."

Following a refurbishment of the premises, Finest Feet Footcare opened with employees wearing full PPE and only one visitor allowed in at a time.

Mike added: "It's a completely different way of working to what we're used to, but we've had a lot of interest and are able to see people on an hourly basis."

Leah Sullivan opened the The Doll House next door to Christopher's on July 7.

The 24-year-old initially began offering haircuts at the venue in Market Place, which also had work spaces available to rent for self-employed beauticians.

Leah Sullivan from The Doll House

As government guidelines changed and restrictions eased, the salon was able to offer more services.

Due to opening throughout the pandemic, a number of extra health and safety measures had to be put in place.

These include customers wearing face masks, hand sanitising stations, contactless payment, staff in full PPE and the taking of temperatures.

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