The coronavirus crisis has given local businesses huge challenges to overcome. But, although some things have changed, shopping is returning to high streets – including to specialist stores.
Ankit Monga has been selling intricately designed and bejewelled Indian wedding garments, including beautiful saris, from his family-run store Mongas in Southall Broadway since 2005.
He said: “We specialise in Asian wedding attire for brides, grooms and clothing for big social gatherings. Indian wedding clothing is more colourful, vibrant and intricate than traditional western wedding outfits. They can feature feathers, scarves and embellishments and are made of silks, georgettes and velvets.
“We are a family business and we employ a lot of people in the UK, including tailors and in the warehouses and 400 employees in our factory in Delhi. These include designers, pattern and garment-cutters.”
The lockdown affected Mongas badly because it was not just the store that was forced to close. Shopping ended for a while, but it was also the big events being cancelled that hit trade.
“It affected the business with a loss of sales and a lot of weddings were cancelled,” recalled Ankit.
Fortunately, as the lockdown eased, the store was able to reopen in June.
Since opening up again, Mongas has followed the government guidance on how to reopen safely and put in place all the measures to keep their customers and staff as safe as possible.
Ankit said: “We always remind people when visiting us to just come as one or two, we all wear masks and gloves, we have our social distancing stickers on the floor and hand sanitisers. At the door we have a hand sanitiser you must use when coming in.”
All these measures mean that Ankit’s customers can shop more confidently and safely.
Ankit added: “I am hopeful that business in Southall Broadway will bounce back.”