CASEY’S FURNITURE, which has been in business for 99 years, re-opened its doors last week in line with Phase 2 of the Government Roadmap following a three-month shutdown.
The third-generation, family-run business is now managed by Peter and David Casey who took over from their father, Jim, in 1996.
Speaking to The Echo David said there was an awful lot of work to do to re-establish the business in line with the new safety guidelines, but it was a great feeling to re-open the doors after three months of online sales only.
“It was something that none of us could have predicted. I often thought of my father who passed away last year and what he would have thought of all this.”
David said it was a tough decision to close their doors, which they did a few days before the Government directive, but one that he and his brother, Peter, made for the safety of the staff and the customers.
“We didn’t just close our doors and walk away, we have been working constantly. We were working with our online service and answering people’s enquiries.”
Mr Casey said that he and his brother have a strong emotional attachment to the family business and it was very difficult to shut up shop.
“We have a very good management structure and there are a number of staff members who make decisions with us together, we are very lucky that way.”
The owner of the Cork furniture company said they sold a lot of garden furniture online during the lockdown with the good weather and since they re-opened they have seen a steady stream of interest in home office furniture, as well as beds and couches.
Along with making physical changes in-store, such as placing signage reminding people to sanitise their hands and to keep their distance, David said all of his staff had undergone rigorous Covid-19 training.
Mr Casey said his team has been innovative with how they were adapting to the Covid era and described a number of new ways people can shop in his store.
“We have tried to give people as many options as possible. People can shop from home, by using the website or by virtually shopping with a member of our team who will talk them through whatever items they are looking for, by phone, video call so they can see the stock as well, or email.”
There is also a personal shopping experience that allows people to book an appointment slot to come to the store and meet with a member of staff, or you can simply turn up at the door and have a browse.”
Initially preparing to open in phase one, alongside hardware stores, Mr Casey said the business has a good long run at getting set up for re-opening.
“We have been preparing to open in phase one, so we had a good bit of work gone into it already. We took a lot of advice from third-party experts and followed the guidelines.”
David said they were lucky at Casey’s Furniture on Oliver Plunkett Street to have a large spacious store that could facilitate a number of people looking around easily and safely.
“We have three floors, it is not a confined space and it is not like a supermarket, you don’t have quite the same proximity of people.”
Mr Casey said they also have a member of staff on the doors monitoring the number of people in the store to ensure there is no issue of overcrowding as well as a new intensive cleaning programme with different staff members responsible for the regular cleaning of certain areas of the store.
“We were very focused on creating a better and safer experience for the customer.”
David said he was heartened to hear his staff were eager to re-open the doors and get back to work almost as much as he and his brother were, and he said they had been very lucky with the team they have.
“If a staff member wasn’t comfortable dealing with the public or working on the shop floor, we would not ask them to, but everyone was very willing to get back to work.”
The businessman said since they reopened this week, they have been steadily busy with people looking to pick up different items for their homes.
“We are very happy, we have no complaints. The reaction to us re-opening has been overwhelming. The goodwill we have been shown by the public and the gratitude they are displaying, we really are very lucky to have such loyal customers.”
Mr Casey said there had been no holidays over the lockdown with most of his staff working hard with the online business, answering queries, and getting merchandise sent to homes all over the country.
“There are a few tired bodies among us at this point and there are some well deserved holidays coming to them soon,” Mr Casey assured.