The owners of a well-kent East Kilbride beauty salon are urging EK News readers to get behind our ‘back local, support local’ campaign.
And they are also asking for a little help from the authorities to support, maintain and improve the high street.
David and Kim Rafferty are the owners of See More Beauty and See More Tanning salons in the town’s Maxwellton Road.
Born and bred in Calderwood, the pair set up their business seven years ago and have developed it into a highly sought after service.
Starting with the salon, 18-months ago they set up the tanning business next door and together now employ seven staff members.
And it is those workers that the pair were desperate to support and secure a future for when the COVID pandemic forced the temporary closure of their business through lockdown.
David, 39, told us: “We’ve been lucky enough to be able to maintain all of our staff with no job losses.
“Along with their health and wellbeing, that was our number one priority from the start.
“This has obviously been an extremely tough year, but we’ve managed to maintain all roles and we’re working hard on social media to keep morale high and maintain client relationships whilst we are closed.
“As well as our livelihood, our business is our pride and joy. Our clientele are genuinely like family, some people we have been treating bi-weekly for close to a decade.
“So, during both lockdowns, we used social media to keep in touch with all our clients and did regular Facebook lives chats, and raffles with treatments as prizes to try and trickle in a little income where possible.”
The pair used the forced down-time to rebrand and plan a fresh marketing and social media strategy for both salons.
That saw them freshen up the salon interiors and then amend the salons to suit COVID guidelines with sneeze guards, signage and a buzzer waiting system for busy periods.
The impact of such measures on all businesses has been huge, coming at a great cost to implement.
Being a small business, David and Kim –who have three children and live in the town – know as well as anyone the importance of supporting local.
David added: “We have a network of friends that we constantly support and recommend.
“Studio 28 Hairdressers in St Leonards, DP dance and fitness studios, and Artisan Buongiorno Bakers – to name but a few – these businesss aren’t only important to the owner / operators, but to the community.
“Sometimes we might be the only happy face someone sees all day. We’re somewhere people can simply have a blether with a friend, old or new – you can’t do that when you’re shopping on the Internet.
“Things like the pandemic bring out the best in people and businesses who can offer a real human touch. Artisan Buongiorno Bakers, for example; they turned their hand to delivering baked goods daily during lockdown.
“Things like this you just don’t get from multi-national corporations. But owner / operators like ourselves can only do so much with regards to protecting the high street. We need the community to support us.”
David and Kim know that, as online marketplaces become easier and faster to use, physical retail will continue to decline.
The effects of that can be seen in any town or city up and down the country, including East Kilbride.
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The couple believe this is in part due to Internet shopping, but also something the local authority could do more to help prevent.
David added: “Things such as free car parking in the village, lower business rates and refraining from handing out new retail planning applications at the edge of town so quickly.
“Why not incentivise the town centres empty spaces first of all? It’s common sense you would think.”