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September 2020

I think it’s safe to say, Summer 2020 was not the summer any of us had planned. I’ve heard two American accents this Summer, one belonging to an American living in Co. Antrim, the other belonging to an American lady living in Germany. I’ve missed the stories from people tracing their heritage, the excitement from people on a trip they’ve been planning for years, the joy that comes from dealing with people on holiday every day.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint any upside to this disaster, it has presented a lot of Irish people with the opportunity to discover their own homeland. Rather than jetting of to all corners of the globe to catch a bit of sun, we’ve been forced to stay home and discover what Ireland has to offer, and I think it’s safe to say a lot of us have been pleasantly surprised by what has been on our doorstep all along. Since we re-opened we have had people from every corner of Ireland visit the shop, and they have been unanimous in their praise of Waterford.

From our miles of breathtaking coastline, to our award winning museums, people from all over Ireland have discovered the magic of Waterford, many for the first time, and I’ve no doubt many of them will be back.

While it’s true to say that 2020 has been a disaster for retail, and in particular shops like ours who rely on tourism for the bulk of our income, I do feel very lucky to have made it to September. When I think back to March, on the cusp of the busy season and days away from opening a new shop, I can clearly remember the panic and confusion as we were ordered to lockdown and shut our doors the day before St. Patrick’s Day, one of the busiest days of the year. I really thought that was game over for my business. I didn’t see any way out, but here we are, fighting on in September, and that’s what I have to remind myself of whenever things seem a bit overwhelming.

In February, as I was preparing for what I thought was going to be another busy summer season, in the chaos of opening a new shop and sprucing up Tower Gift Shop I accidentally left the bathroom tap on overnight and arrived into work the next day to a flooded back room. I had a VERY busy day ahead of me, a string of forms had to be filled out to get planning permission for the new shop. I had a floor stand arrive that I couldn’t physically fit in the shop so had to dismantle it on the street and re-assemble it in the shop and was feeling very sorry for myself already, and my “woe is me” narrative was amplified by the fact that before I could do anything on my list I had to deal with a flood, a flood that was my own fault. In between cursing myself for my stupidity I actually thought ” Well, at least things can’t get any worse”……oh but they did.

It’s easy to forget that in the midst of this financial turmoil, there are thousands of lives lost, millions forever changed by this virus. I’m so thankful that my own fallout from this pandemic is financial, and I’m not dealing with a tragedy. I hope you’ve all managed to find joy this summer, that cancelled plans didn’t mean cancelled fun and to those of you that were due to visit us in 2020, we’re looking forward to welcoming you Waterford as soon as possible.