Sydney opens up: How three small businesses have found their first days of freedom

Potts Point Bookshop small businesses

Potts Point Bookshop owner Anna Low. Source: Facebook

Small businesses in Sydney say the atmosphere in their stores is vibrant, with customers thrilled to return to in-store shopping since restrictions eased on Monday.

Bookshops, beauty clinics and fashion retailers are among the businesses that can now welcome fully vaccinated customers into their premises in Greater Sydney.

According to National Australia Bank, Sydneysiders spent $130 million on Monday alone. Of that figure, consumers spent $5 million in hair salons, $10 million on clothing and $13 million in restaurants and pubs.

SmartCompany has spoken to business owners with shops in Potts Point, Liverpool and The Rocks to find out how their first days of post-lockdown trading have been.

The Bookshop

Anna Low, owner of Potts Point Bookshop, says opening the doors of her business on Monday and letting customers enter “have been amazing”.

“There’s a level of excitement from people coming in. It’s hard to put into words, but people are expressing how happy they are to be able to be in the shop,” Low tells SmartCompany.

Since reopening, the biggest challenge Low has experienced is having to check the vaccination status of her customers.

“The vaccine passport isn’t integrated with the QR code app, so people need to scan their QR code, show you that, and then show you their vaccine passport,” she says.

Despite these extra requirements, customers at Potts Point Bookshop have so far willingly displayed their vaccine status.

Only one customer arrived at the shop who wasn’t vaccinated, and Low assisted them safely outside.

“As a retailer, you can’t assume that they’re not getting vaccinated because they’re anti-vaxxers, you’ve got to give people the benefit of the doubt,” she says.

The beauty clinic

Imaan Joshi, owner of Skin Essentials in Liverpool, restarted face-to-face consultations and skin services such as injectables on Monday.

Joshi says customers have been eager to return and are volunteering their vaccination information when booking.

“Everyone is vaccinated or will be when they return and we’ve not had any pushback from those who feel left out,” Joshi tells SmartCompany.

The clothing store

Eloise Panetta, owner of the eponymous clothing store in The Rocks, opened her shop for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions eased on Wednesday morning.

“We’ve had so much preparation to do. We have loved doing a really beautiful window display and I’ve had my team help me assemble dry flowers,” Panetta tells SmartCompany.

The store, Eloise Panetta, is located on George Street in The Rocks and sells botanically dyed garments.

Panetta expects wet weather to keep customers away on her first day of trading but is hopeful there will be an uptick in sales over the weekend.

“If it was a sunny day, of course, there would be people about and the pub out the front would be thriving,” she says.

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