“Nothing beats seeing smiling faces”: reaction in bustling Sharrowvale as pubs and shops open across Sheffield
Beer gardens, non-essential shops, gyms and salons all opened up today as lockdown finally eased and there was an ‘air of optimism’ in one Sheffield community.
“It wasn’t Sheffield without the shops,” one Sharrow Vale shopper said – and there was certainly hope that this will be the last time our local businesses have to shut their doors due to Covid-19.
Matt Brown, a third year economics student at The University of Sheffield, headed down to The Stag’s Head on Psalter Lane early with his three housemates after a year of being holed up together.
The pub opened at an earlier 11am today, and the weather meant the beer garden – complete with pop-up marquee – was bustling from the off.
Matt said: “It is a bit like when of your best mates has gone away and then they come back and it is great to socialise with them again and have a nice drink.
"It is good, on a serious note, for mental health as well. We are all students so it is good to be back outside and in the pub together, it’s a great atmosphere.
"We stayed in Sheffield the whole time in our pocket-size garden and small house so it is great to be back outside again. We are settling here for the day. A lot of the pubs were booked quite quickly so we thought we would come here early get a seat and camp out for the day.”
Some hospitality businesses in Sheffield have a ‘bookings only’ policy, with many restaurants and beer gardens booked up until the end of the month.
However, The Stag’s Head wanted to make room for the ‘casual drinker’ – and many were taking the opportunity to enjoy the weather with a frothy pint.
Kurt Woods, manager of The Stag’s Head, said: "We have not been taking bookings for this because we like to keep a causal drinker happy, as well as the groups, so for us to open at 11 today as a first trial run has been pretty good.
"We will open from 11 everyday as we have a license to serve from 11 so we have previously trialled it but as of today, when the weather is right, people come out.
"We have been pretty desperate, you know what it is like when you are stuck at home pottering round doing jobs. Nothing beats being at work seeing smiley faces having good beer, its great.”
Callum East, 23, who lives in Sharrow, was enjoying a pint at The Lescar on Sharrowvale Road.
He said: “It is the sense of community and everybody being together again – we are not isolating.
"It is the best bit of the pubs, the social element. It’s great to be sat in the sun with 30 other people sharing experiences once again.”
Donna Powell, owner of Trapeze Kids opposite The Lescar, has also opened her doors for the first time in months, selling children’s clothes.
She said: “It has been a rollercoaster and it feels like its time. It hit people, not just businesses but emotionally, this time. What I have tried to do is keep the local community engaged with the website so people could order online and pick up from the store, as well as deliveries, so that kept people engaged and reminded them that we were here.
“There are regular customers that have been by, saying hello, checking in, so it feels exciting to be back open again; the weather is good, the sun is out, so it is a nice day. I feel quite optimistic.
"Around here has been quite busy throughout so it has always felt quite positive and fairly uplifting, so hopefully that will continue.”
Anna Worden from the Rhyme & Reason bookshop at Hunters Bar said that bookshops being open is equally important as hospitality, and shoppers agree.
There were queues at salons and hairdressers, and some punters were making the most of a new outdoor seating area at the popular Pom Kitchen.
"It wasn’t Sheffield without the shops, I have had to order online and that just hasn’t been as enjoyable,” said Sharrow Vale shopper Carol.
"I would rather go in to a shop and speak with the staff, you know, it’s much more of an experience.”
Anna Worden added: “It is lovely. It is been great that we have managed to stay open at all throughout but it is lovely having customers back in, with the fact to face conversation.
"They are happy to be here. Someone said all their mates have been ecstatic about the pubs being open but they were like, ‘nope, I want to go to the bookshop’. That’s nice to hear.”