Pitshanger Lane a 'Ghost Town' of Independent Shops
Local business owner says latest lockdown will lead to more closures
A dry cleaning business owner has said the latest lockdown “will finish a lot of businesses” as he fears they’ve hit the worst point for trade during the pandemic.
Tony Moran, who runs Salisbury Dry Cleaners in Pitshanger Lane, Ealing, described the high street of independent shops as a “ghost town” on the first Saturday since the latest coronavirus restrictions were announced.
The 68-year-old grandfather has been struggling to sustain his dry cleaning service throughout the crisis as offices and social occasions have dropped off, with no need for suits, shirts or “glad rags” which make up a large part of the business.
But according to Tony, who has had his business on the lane since the early 1980s, this winter lockdown will further “hurt a lot of people” until it is expected to end in mid-February.
“Saturday was the worst day I had for footfall. There was no footfall down the lane no one was about, no one came in the shops,” he explained.
“I might not see a soul tomorrow, I don’t know. This is the most concerned and worried I’ve been in all of lockdown.”
He added, “This will finish a lot of businesses this last lockdown – if this is the last lockdown. If they extend it I don’t know what will be left.”
Since March last year, Tony has been trying to make his outlet as Covid-friendly as possible, with offers of free collection and drop off to people’s homes to get their dry cleaning done, and an appeal for more customers to use his “contact-free” drop off and collection box outside his store-front, which can be used 24/7 for no extra cost.
The £40,000 investment in the equipment began getting up and running properly in the last year but Tony said the initiative hasn’t really “taken off” with customers using it so far.
The father-of-three has been forced to furlough staff and himself work seven days a week to afford the upkeep of the business.
“I have got to find the wages, I have taken no salary over lockdown, I’m working on my savings,” Tony said.
“At 68 years of age I should be on an easy street, but I’m not on any easy street…I have worked very hard for the last nine to 10 months. There comes a limit to being able to do it anymore.”
While extra work for other laundrettes has “helped massively” in Tony’s business survival, the Isleworth resident is wary there’s only so much work he can take on for one person.
He added, “For me it’s not only the physical side of the job, [it’s] also got a mental side of the job which is that bills don’t go away – your water bill, gas bill, electricity bill…they are horrendous bills for me, horrendous.”
Tony is hoping in the future things will be brighter, and he’ll get into a position to re-employ the staff and not be so hands on.
His daughter Megan Henderson has also been trying to help build up a following on social media to help her dad’s business flourish.
Through posting fun videos and pictures of the services, Megan hopes to remind residents and customers in the area the dry cleaners is still open for business and also give something back to her dad.
“He’s always dropped everything to come and help us, now I just feel I’m doing everything I can, Facebook, Instagram, to try and boost some footfall into the shop and get it out there and just show what he does,” Megan said.
“He’s my dad it just hurts to see he’s worked all his life for this, he’s hoping to retire in a few years time and this has just wiped this away.
“As a family, it’s really heartbreaking.”
But trying to survive through the crisis has not stopped Tony wanting to help those worse off, and the dry cleaners is making preparations to set up a food bank from the Pitshanger Lane store by the end of the week.
Tony added, “Compared to someone living on the streets and sleeping in freezing weather, the bottom line is we should help people on our doorsteps…
“If it helps one person it’s one person less.”
To find out more about Salisbury Dry Cleaners search ‘Salisbury Dry Cleaners Ealing’ on Facebook or email Tony Moran on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter
January 12, 2021