We're all a bit fatigued after a full year of the Pandemic. There's been so much bad news everywhere we turn.
The team here at Drogheda Chamber have supported and celebrated the resilience, creativity and courage of our entrepreneurs over the last year. And now it's time to celebrate those that have been nimble in adapting to the changing situation. Those that have pivoted. That have used the lockdowns as opportunities to future fit and develop their businesses further.
Over the coming weeks we will interview some of these businesses and share some of the positivity and good news that we see.
This week we are talking with Kevin McAllister - from Kevin McAllister Electrical.
Tell us about your pre pandemic Business status
KM: We're a second generation family retail business in our 75th year,
Our business is situated on West Street in Drogheda and we sell electrical and small appliances. I personally run the shop with two staff and I'm in my 42nd year there! Pre Pandemic we had a purely Bricks and Mortar business with no on line presence.
What was the initial impact on your business & how did you react?
KM: We were closed in the first lockdown, but then we were allowed to trade behind closed doors. We traded with a gate at the entrance and stayed in touch with the customers through Facebook and Twitter. Every day I tweeted that we were available on the phone - I'd say “Our doors may be closed but our phone is on” and this worked really well.
We traded quite well, kept our name out there and stayed connected with our customers.
What changes did you make in order to cope or pivot / and to adapt to the situation?
KM: In March last year we applied for a Grant from Louth county Enterprise for a Mentor Miriam Simon who was a great help and we acted on all the advice given! We also started to plan for a website / ecommerce option. The pandemic gave me the push to do this. It took some time - but we are now online. www.kevinmcallisterelectrical.ie
We also teamed up with a local Green delivery service called Pedal Power delivery, and this enabled us to provide fast good value delivery service to our customers,
We joined the Retail Powerhouse headed by Miriam Simon. This is a group of local and national retailers who meet weekly for a chat virtually, and exchange ideas and encourage each other to trade through this extended difficult period. In the group, Miriam steers us and we are all encouraged to try new thing. For example - Social media. I now do weekly videos of new products and give a brief description myself on the post. This is then put out on all our social media channels. I even have a Tik Tok channel !!.
What supports, grants, aids helped the most?
KM: As mentioned above, the following have been a great Support and really helped to motivate me to trade through this Pandemic.
- Miriam Simon - Retail Mentor (& Guru)
- Louth Enterprise Office - Amazing webinars and grants
- Drogheda Chamber - Great advice from them. Web support. Online webinars. Not to mention their Retail Battle Plan series at the start of the Pandemic.
- Tapit Reward System - This is a fantastic cash back system that encourages local people to shop local.
- Louth Co Council - The rates reductions and rebates also really helped.
How are you feeling about business as we begin to plan to emerge from the lockdowns, and as vaccinations roll out?
KM: We are really looking forward to our neighbours and fellow Retailers opening up and bringing back the atmosphere to West Street again. Hopefully soon! We're also hoping that the wonderful local support from our customers will still continue. We also encouraged by the Vaccine roll out even if it is slower than expected.
Finally … What's your top piece of advice for other businesses?
KM: Keep in touch with your Customer by using every means available and especially across all of your Social Media Platforms.
Let them know you are there for them and ready to serve and look after them when we all reopen - Which will be very soon, I hope!
If you'd like to be featured in this series -
We'd love to hear from you @Drogheda & District Chamber.