The Monmouthshire Beacon caught up with Eirwen Rogers of the Blessed Be Alternative Emporium and Lottie Dixon of the Bloom Room at last Thursday's late night shopping pilot. They both trade from the White Swan Court and this is their take on the present situation in Monmouth with the challenging roadworks.

Eirwen said she was a bit disappointed with the uptake with the businesses, “there is hardly anyone open in Church Street and unless businesses get on board, it will not work.

“Lottie and I have been sitting here for a couple of hours and we haven’t got any customers, I’ve had three customers all day,” she added.

She pointed out that no-one was open in Church Street and so there was no indication there were shops open in the White Swan Court.

Commenting on the second late night Thursday opening last week, she said “it was awful, the traffic was stationary so that's a knock-on effect. I had to finish at 7.30pm as the A40 was due to close.

When asked if she would continue after the pilot ends in March, she added that “in light of the new roadworks plan, I’ve got a feeling it’s going to have a massive effect on other people coming into town, whether it’s day or night.

“I’m a really new business, I opened at hallowe’en, and have done really really well and everything up to christmas was great but these roadworks make me ask myself is it worth me staying here or relocating?

“I have looked at a property in Ross as I need to think what is best for me.

“I have put everything I own into this business and I am doing everything I possibly can. I do workshops on Sundays and evenings and I have some fantastic customers, but the town is not pulling together, that is what I am seeing from this end of town.

Lottie said that what people don’t realise is that if we are only taking 30 percent of our normal trade, we still have to cover our rent, rates, heating, gas, water, everything in our shops and our home properties as well.

Could you expect anyone else to accept we are only paying 30 percent of our bill, Friday you may earn nothing, next Friday you may earn a little bit more, it all depends on whether you get anyone through the door?”

The Bloom Room
(Des Pugh)

Eirwen added her business could not sustain the upcoming full closures within the town “not if business is going to be like this

“I have to choose which days I open, I don’t open Monday and Tuesday as there is no point sitting in the shop, with my electric and heating on and I’m not getting anyone in.

“This is my first year of being here,  so I cannot claim a compensation grant from Welsh water as I don’t have two years of trading,” she pointed out.

She has asked Welsh Water for signage to say the top end of town,  Church Street, Agincourt Square,  is open, “shoppers don’t realise what is actually up here.

“I do Tarot workshops and Rune workshops and a Tea Leaf reading workshop. We have tea and cake and we have a bit of a giggle, it’s fantastic.

I plan to run a Neuro Spicy evening on the last Friday of every month for those with ADHD or suffer with anxiety and those neuro divergent.

Shop wise, I'm happy with what I sell, it’s all ethically sourced mainly from UK suppliers.

I gave up my wedding day money to open this shop and I don’t want to leave,” she added.