Shops Enjoy Good First Day After Lockdown

The town was busy with people shopping on Monday in Henley after they reopened after being closed for 12 weeks. Like supermarkets, the shops were limiting the number of people in store to keep everyone safe and socially distanced.  There were only a few queues at shops in the morning at Laurence Menswear and Robert Dyas.

Henley Town Council have put up posters and pavement stickers reminding people to keep to the 2m social distance and have asked an existing employee to become a Town Ranger to go out around town to help visitors, residents and shop owners to keep everyone safe.

Matt Stone from Gorvett & Stone on Duke Street said, “We were very happy with the first day. It was lovely to see some regulars. Most people are used to shopping and social distancing, so no real issues and people generally just seemed please that there was a further return to normal.”

One of Henley’s secret gems is Way’s Book Shop on Friday Street which sells books, maps, old postcards, programmes and vintage posters and magazine extracts.  They have a popular section ‘The Black Hole’ where once-read paperbacks are £1 a pop (much cheaper than the charity shops). Owner Diana Cook said, “Monday was a shock to the system because I have not been here for 3 months!  We were hardly rushed off our feet with two customers all day. One had come from Beaconsfield, the other from Reigate, especially to us and they found lots of things.  I’m sure it will be busier when pubs and cafés open again.  During lockdown I prepared and priced, a collection of uncommon motoring brochures from the 1940’s to 1960’s and they are very splendid items of ephemera with wonderful graphics.  But we’ve also added lots of old, vintage and selected secondhand books .. most subjects, from all eras & at all levels of price. We’ve got gloves, masks & sanitiser, as we ask people to really clean their hands well so we don’t have to quarantine books.  So far,  I have not noticed many people in gloves & masks.”

Thames Hospice on Duke Street was the only charity shop in town which opened on Monday.  Other shops which are still closed include Joules, Mint Velvet, Moda in Pelle, Space NK, Rohan, Jo Jo Maman.  For a full list go to

Councillor Sarah Miller, Chair of the Town & Community Committee said at the Full Council meeting on Tuesday, “I’d like give a huge thank you to Helen Barnett the Town Manager and her team for their great team effort.  I know for a fact the shop owners are all feeling positive.  Henley is back, Henley is open for business. #shophenley #shoplocal.”

Henley Mayor, Councillor Ken Arlette said, “I have been in town every morning since Monday with the Henley Town Council ‘Ranger’, Trish Rae. Trish will continue to be the Town Council’s conduit between us and the shop owners, and will be covering the town on a daily basis to see what help if anything the shop owners need.

All the shop owners have been very positive and put in place government guide lines, which seem to be working very well. Queues of people outside shops are very orderly, keeping the two metre distance. Shop owners where necessary have an assistant at their front door.

Speaking to coffee shops, Publicans and restaurant owners, they are all looking forward to opening on the 4th July, and hoping by that time that the government think it will be safe to reduce the social distancing to one metre. Once these places are open it will bring more people into town which will be good for the retail side.

Short term car parks are beginning to fill, but there is still space for parking to do your shopping. If people wish to spend longer in town, there is always the Rugby Club and the Station for long term parking.

All in all it is an encouraging start to the reopening, even if all the retail shops are not open yet, hopefully they will open in the not to distance future. I would encourage all residents, even from the local villages, to come and see how the shop owners have set their shops up for your safety.”

We loved the beautifully painted windows on Fluidity and F2 in Bell Street (below).