An Alcester florist has praised the town’s community spirit as more and more customers are heading back to the high street – and into her shop.
Wendy Higgins, who runs Wild Bunch with her husband Justin, had to shut completely during lockdown, resulting in a significant loss of business.
But since reopening, customers have gradually been coming back, and many have verbally expressed their desire to help the Alcester high street instead of going elsewhere to buy flowers.
Wendy said: “You get a real sense of community spirit in Alcester – this is a town where everyone looks after each other.
“Since we’ve reopened, we’ve had plenty of customers come back in to buy their flowers, and our website has had far more traffic with people looking to order online for delivery.
“We were a little lucky in one sense, as the lockdown happened just after Mothers’ Day, which is typically our busiest day.
“If the lockdown had been enforced before then, I don’t think we’d be here anymore.
“But although it’s not going to be easy, I’m quietly confident we can get back on our feet and continue to prosper in Alcester now the lockdown is over.”
Wendy has been a florist for more than 30 years, and originally got into the profession after just falling short of becoming an interior designer.
“I actually failed a really important art exam when I was trying to get into interior design,” she added.
“My mum told me to ‘just become a florist’ – and I’ve done pretty well since then. Failing that exam may have been a blessing in disguise.”
During her long career as a florist, Wendy contributed to creating vibrant floral displays for major sporting events all over the country, including at Wimbledon, the Grand National, test matches at Lord’s Cricket Ground, and at golf courses hosting the Ryder Cup.
After working in the event and exhibition sector for a number of years with Justin, the pair were made redundant, and saw an opportunity to purchase a shop in Alcester – a town they knew little about initially.
The couple opened the business in January 2017 after moving from Birmingham, and quickly built up a strong customer base within the town.
Wendy said: “We thought we should bite the bullet and acquire the shop, even though we didn’t know a huge amount about Alcester to begin with.
“We made the right decision. The people here have been so supportive from day one, and I was so proud of what we’d achieved as a business before the pandemic came.”
Alcester’s mayor, Cllr Gill Forman, praised Wendy and Justin for staying resilient during lockdown and was thankful that their business is now recovering.
She said: “Wild Bunch is a great example of a shop reaping the rewards of building strong links with its local customers.
“I’m so happy that their customers have continued to the support them by coming out after lockdown and heading to Wild Bunch instead of going elsewhere.
“This is a trend that has been repeated across Alcester – we’re a town that cares about its local businesses.
“Wild Bunch’s flowers are simply beautiful, and I hope they stay in Alcester for many years to come.”
Businesses in the district are also being supported by Stratford District Council to promote the safe reopening of the High Streets in response to Covid-19 through the Government’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The project has received £116,036 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding
Caption – From left: Cllr Gill Forman with Wendy Higgins