Banbury town centre streets busy 'like Christmas' for reopening of non essential and outdoor hospitality businesses
Hundreds of people returned to the streets of the town centre of Banbury as non essential and outdoor hospitality businesses reopened for the first time in months
Some people waited in queues for that long awaited haircut and others enjoyed a pint outside their favourite pub to mark the reopening of retail shops and non essential businesses.
One independently owned business, The Banbury Sewing Centre, like many town centre businesses worked hard in its preparations for the big 'Reopening Day' today (Monday April 12).
Amy-Leigh Brennan-Rogers, who owns The Banbury Sewing Centre in Parsons Street, said: "Banbury sewing centre has been in the town for around 50 years. It’s always been in the exact same building too, which shows it’s stood the test of time - it will take more than recessions and a pandemic to close our doors permanently."
Their preparations for re-opening included new laminate flooring, fresh paint outside and painting inside the store. The store also opened with a new line of products offering the public curtain and upholstery fabric, sewing machines and new summer yarns. They will now be offering loyalty cards to customers.
Amy-Leigh added: "It's an exciting time. I'm trying to rebrand. Now is the time to reopen bigger and better.
"We remain Covid secure - every customer must use our sanitiser and wear a mask to enter and we limit the number of shoppers."
Amy-Leigh took over the business from her mother, Tracey O'Carroll, early last year after she sadly passed away. Her mother ran the sewing store for more than 17 years.
She said: "This was her dream. This is definitely her home, and I want to keep it going in her memory. It's her legacy really. It meant everything to her, and now it does to me too."
Elsewhere in the town centre several of the outside tables at VanJordans Coffee House near Banbury Cross were regularly full throughout the day.
Jon Jordan, said: "It's nice to see more people about. We're getting that footfall that wasn't there before. I'm quite optimistic. We're adding a lot of things."
In the coming weeks VanJordans will offer people hot food such as breakfast, beef burgers and chicken burgers.
He added: "It's just evolving. We're constantly evolving. We're going to do a different spin on the English Breakfast."
Maggie Jarrott stopped by VanJordans for a sandwich after walking her dog, Mist, through Peoples Park.
She said: "This is lovely. It's nice to have a proper table and food again."
Mervi Moyaert, the owner of Belflair Chocolates in Church Lane, saw more people in the town centre than usual.
She said: "It's been a long time since I've seen Banbury this busy. It's like Christmas time. The feel is great. One customer even called it 'exciting.'
"It's really nice to see the town back open again."
Rosy Burke, who came to the town centre with her daughter, Lucy Burke, stopped by several shops and an art gallery.
Rosy said: "I try do what I can to support the smaller traders. It's really wonderful to see all the spruced up shops. I'm really thrilled to see so much activity.
"I love clothes so I wanted to go into White Stuff on the High Street, which is full of spring colours. We stopped by the Ugly Mug for a delicious cup of coffee.
"Then we went to the Church Lane Gallery to see the new displays of art."
Several people, including Rosy and her daughter, stopped to listen to a street musician playing outside the Old Town Cafe and the independent shops in its building in Parsons Street.
'Cloudsong,' who was playing the native American flute, travelled from Dorset to perform outside the group of independent businesses in Parsons Street, Banbury.
Lesley Burnham, who runs Calmer Heart, a crystal selling business in the cellar of the building, which houses four independent businesses, organised 'Cloudsong' to play in Parsons Street. The building houses Calmer Heart in the cellar, The Artery art shop, The Old Town Cafe and the Fellowship of the Needle tattoo shop.
She said: "We thought we should celebrate people coming back out, and just bring some lovely energy to the streets.
"We understand people are still anxious and this is so soothing."
Michael Barnett, who stopped to listen to the music, said: "It's absolutely brilliant. People need a relaxing sound at this time of year with everything going on."
One man, Arthur Fairns, took the week off work at DHL, to fully experience the reopening of shops and pubs across the area.
He said: "It was snowing when I got out this morning. I got out at half six this morning for a haircut in Woodford Halse."
Arthur enjoyed a long awaited pint at the Reindeer Inn pub in Parsons Street.
He added: "You got to meet up with your friends, enough of this lockdown. It's a brilliant place to be here. It's one of the oldest in town. You can have the odd drink at home, but it's just not the same. You haven't got your mates.
"It's nice to get out and see old faces again."