BIG READ: 'Facebook Live' helps one Tipperary Town business adapt to Covid-19 pandemic

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Martin Quinn

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Martin Quinn

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news@nationalist.ie

Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

Rita Fenton introduced a Tuesday night “Facebook Live” promotion

There is hardly a business in the country that hasn’t been affected in some way by Covid-19.

Tipperary Town has had its fair share of problems and difficulties over the years so how are businesses in Tipperary coping in this difficult environment and how have they adapted to the needs and requirements of customers? To answer that question,

Martin Quinn visited two relatively new businesses in the town and met with the proprietors to talk to them about how their business has changed since the onset of Covid-19.

Pictured below: Dave McMahon of Mc’s Menswear in Tipperary Town is taking on the pandemic

Dave Mc’s Menswear was the first stop and Dave was very busy in their sale outlet but he still managed to chat while dealing with customers.

“Covid forced us to change the way of doing business and an online website was part of the plan. We got online quickly and driven through Facebook we are now sending packages all over the country to places like Fermanagh and Cavan.

"We have had a super reaction to our online service and our new website is almost ready to go so that will be a further boost for us,” he said.

Dave is anxious to say that this online service does not replace the face to face interaction and that personal customer sales are still the way forward.

“The customer wants to shop local and part of that is seeing the clothes and trying them on. We are very conscious of safety so only one person is allowed in the fitting rooms at a time and the room is disinfected after each person along with the clothes that the person is not taking.

"Our sale outlet is very busy at the moment so we have to be conscious of the limit of people who can be in the premises at a time. My only concern about the limit on numbers is the onset of winter and the affect that that might have if people have to queue outside in the cold and rain.”

Dave however has no concerns as to the future of the business and is very grateful to the Local Enterprise Office for their support with funding and assistance towards increasing and developing their online presence.

This theme of support from LEO was again to the fore at Rita’s Flowers.

Rita spoke of the difficulties she faced when lockdown happened on March 23. “I opened in November 2018 and the ongoing roadworks in 2019 was a major challenge for us and we were just over that hump when lockdown came.

“It meant that the business had to close so I had to look at how I was going to market the business going forward. In order to safeguard the business and for my own mental stability I had to look at alternatives to the way that we did business.”
Once again as with Dave Mc’s the support of the Local Enterprise Office was crucial to Rita’s Flowers.

“I had to do courses online to improve my skills and I availed of funding through LEO to develop a website.

“I knew that we had to increase our online presence so while waiting to get the website up and running I devised a format of sales which was quite unique and ready to launch for when the business re-opened on June 10.”

Rita introduced a Tuesday night “Facebook Live” promotion on a buy on the night and collect the following day practice.

The sales element is from 7pm to 8pm and the half hour on either side is devoted to music, requests and promoting other businesses in the town.

“We are now reaching over 3,000 views weekly on our Facebook pages - Margarita Fenton & Rita’s Flowers Tipperary and Limerick - and as a result we are getting telephone orders from different parts of the country and overseas in the UK and Canada.

“The walk in business has changed hugely as we can't allow people into the shop so business has to be carried out in the doorway and that has caused great uncertainty for us.

“However on the plus side we are seeing a lot more deliveries to homes and chapels of rest and more card sales over the telephone as distinct from walk-in sales.”

Both Dave and Rita are hoping to have their new websites up and running shortly and both have certainly taken up the challenges of adapting to change in a Covid environment.