By Louis Ross
I’ve been running Barrybados now for 7 years, it’s gradually grown and grown, mainly due to the support of the local people of Barry who bought into my idea many years ago.
I had literally just come off my best Christmas period, which was insane, I’ve never been so busy, the website was getting orders through constantly, mainly down to the Gavin and Stacey buzz and the Christmas holidays were the busiest I have ever had.
It’s what I always dreamed of, busy, both online and in the shop, I did it, I finally achieved what I wanted to do. It’s been a long road, but last Christmas I finally felt I have achieved my dream of making this my full time job, which provided for my family.
I guess in the beginning, I kind of brush off the pandemic, when it was in Italy (Where I was meant to be going in the summer to watch Wales play football) until the daily rate of infections reached the UK significantly, and was going up at a fast rate. I closed the doors to my shop on Sunday March 17th and haven’t been open since, and not sure when I will.
During the beginning of the UK pandemic, I was worried this might be the end for Barrybados. I thrive on the Summer and Christmas trade. I could see the Summer slowly fading away, so I didn’t know how I would make it through to next year.
I rely on the summer period. My shop is closed and that’s my main source of income, I really didn’t know what to do during the first week of lockdown, I was lost, the shop has been my life for the past 2 and a half years, since going full time with the business. I love going to the Island everyday and seeing the local traders and customers,my daily routine had gone.
One of the plus sides of Barrybados is, I have a large social media presence and a website, and right now, ordering online is more important than ever. So whilst the shop has been closed, I’ve been trying to use this to my advantage. I’ve switched my focus from the shop to online and it’s worked during well during the pandemic.
I didn’t know how well the website would do during lockdown, as I was unsure that people would spend and would be more cautious. But, during the past few weeks, I’ve had some of my best weeks online trading in history. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of the people of Barry and beyond.
I’m so grateful for all of the orders right now. It’s kept me busy, sane and most of all, it’s kept Barrybados in business at least for the foreseeable future.
This should’ve been the busiest summer of Barry Island that we’ve had a number of years. Right now, I don’t think we’ll see much summer on the Island, instead, I’m enjoying time off with the family.
It’s been nice to ‘not work’ everyday and relax a little. But deep down, I can’t wait to take the short drive to the island everyday, pop and see the local traders and then look back on 2020, how things changed so significantly within a short space of time.
During this crisis, I’ve enjoyed watching local businesses switch up their style quickly, doing things they normally wouldn’t do, florists, butchers, toy shops, gift shops, cafes, even saw a local pub doing alcohol delivery.
Businesses have adapted quickly, to their keep business going. It’s going to be a long road to recovery for all, and although we can’t change the direction of the wind, we can adjust the sails to always reach the destination.
Louis Ross, with Rhys Howell, is the brains behind Barrybados. The two friends said they were tired of seeing Barry being criticised so set about doing the town “proud” – both here, in wider Wales, and abroad.
Check out Barrydados at:
Thanks to Louis for writing exclusively for Mrs SVJ – the community blog of Sue Vincent-Jones. Sue is a journalist, editor, and communications specialist who blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a quirky, and queer, girl done good.
One of Wales Arts Review 100 Women Writers of Wales, the dedicated community supporter, passionate arts lover, and award-winning queer activist, will keep you “informed, entertained and inspired.”