New and seasoned local traders need the public’s backing this Christmas more than ever.
And North East Now’s ongoing festive campaign is aiming to rally support for beleaguered businesses by showing off what they have to offer.
Running until the end of December, the campaign is shining a light on the different ways that shoppers can do their bit and help sustain regional firms.
Despite the unprecedented times, more and more stores have been opening their doors for the first time across the north-east. This includes Farmhouse_grey Luxury Home Scents, based in Turriff.
The business was originally planned to launch at the tail end of this year. However, due to the wedding season being quietened, founder Amy Archibald – an award-winning wedding cake artist – decided to draw up a new business plan.
It first started operating in June and offers candles, reed diffusers, car perfumes, wax melts and warmers in an array of scents.
She said: “I had a diary bursting at the seams and it was all gone an instant.
“But eventually I opened my store as business was getting busier and busier, and my kitchen just wasn’t coping with the amount of work that was going on.
“My last £250 was used to start this business up and it really was a huge gamble, but it has paid off and I’m completely thankful that it has.”
Nearby is Willow Lane Fashion, owned by Ailsa Alsop.
This time last year Ailsa, who studied fashion management and graduated from Robert Gordon University in 2014, was operating her business online and preparing to host a festive pop-up shop.
But now – in the same venue where the pop-up shop took place – the entrepreneur has her own premises stocking a range of desirable and affordable women’s fashionwear and accessories.
Ailsa said: “Having operated online for three years, we actually only opened our store this year.
“The team and I had to completely renovate the shop and had planned to open early April, but coronavirus put a stop to all our renovations for a few months. Nevertheless, Willow Lane Fashion finally opened at the start of July.
“The Willow Lane team have had a great, positive response from the public about our new store and lots of well wishes, too.”
North East Now has been driven by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce and supported by creative agency Hampton and Aberdeen Journals.
The campaign, which launched in June, has pulled together a range of information, directories and blogs aimed at allowing people to find out more about local firms operating throughout the pandemic.
Mother-daughter duo Diane and Molly Heath launched Essentially You – Soap and Skincare during lockdown, with a focus on producing eco-friendly products that are free of palm oil, paraben and chemicals.
Operating in Auchnagatt near Ellon, the business partners said that while Covid-19 has dominated 2020, they believe “people are making more of an effort to shop local this Christmas”.
“In a bid to encourage our community to shop local, we have opened up the ‘Essentially Christmas Pop Up Shop’ at the Ellon Business Centre,” Molly added.
“Here, local crafters and businesses pay for their shelf to be able to display and sell their products, with a total of 22 crafters taking part and a few more to join in December.”
Katharine Canning, owner of Copper & Grey, has tried to ensure that both her stores stock plenty of gifts that consumers will not find anywhere else.
The gift shops are based in Banchory and on Chapel Street in Aberdeen.
Opening her second store mid-pandemic, Katharine is proud of how far her brand has come.
She said: “As a family-run business, closing our doors and losing our income was pretty scary and stressful. The first lockdown wasn’t an easy time for anybody.
“What we did discover was that we had a fantastically loyal customer base.”
Visit northeastnow.scot to find out more.