The window opens on Jo-Anne's dream shop in St Helens
JO-ANNE Shaw is probably a familiar name for many St Helens residents.
She owns JC Kitchens on Greenfield Road, which has been in the family since 1990.
Jo also opened new gift shop Regalos across the road in October last year, a brave step given the coronavirus crisis that has caused immense pain for small businesses.
Regalos, on Tennis Street, Dentons Green, offers a range of homeware and gifts – many from local suppliers.
“We got the idea because at JC Kitchens we’ve got two lovely big windows that I like to dress,” Jo said.
“We had a number of people who would knock and say, ‘oh we love that item in the window’, and I’d have to constantly tell people it wasn’t for sale.
“So initially we started selling gifts out of JC Kitchens, but we had more and more products and more and more customers so we decided we needed a separate building.
“It’s important for us to try and support other local people where we can.
“We have a man on the Wirral who makes things out of copper piping for us, and a friend of ours who lives near Preston does pet portraits for gift cards in compostable packets.
“We also have a local lady from St Helens who handmakes doorstops.”
But opening a business in lockdowns and restrictions hasn’t been easy.
“We got the lease on the property last September,” Jo explained. “We worked on the building for six weeks and didn’t open until the latter half of October, so we had a couple of weeks being open and then had to close for lockdown in November.”
Regalos was allowed to briefly reopen again in December but shut its doors once more when the third national lockdown was announced.
“We’re doing a click and collect service currently – customers can place their orders and then collect them from the JC Kitchens building across the road. It’s been challenging, as it has for everybody with a small business,” Jo said.
“We’re still paying our rent and all our bills on the building, and we have virtually nothing coming in from it.
“We are ticking over – I wouldn’t say we’re making money because we can’t open, but we’re trying to keep our name out there and we’re getting some lovely positive feedback from everybody.”
But it sounds like it has all been worth it.
Jo said she’d “longed” for a shop with windows since her mum owned the business before her, and now she finally has the opportunity to dress it.
“It was quite an emotional time,” Jo said. “All we ever wanted was a shop window since we first opened JC Kitchens. We’d longed for it for a really long time. And now we’re lucky, we’ve got two lovely big windows [at JC Kitchens] and two in the gift shop.”
Regalos on Greenfield Road hopes to open for in-person shopping on April 12, restrictions allowing.