Due to their flexibility and innovation, a good deal of small businesses in Canterbury has survived one of the world’s biggest pandemics. In comparison to big corporations or chains, they have been able to adjust their business models to new circumstances. Some of these businesses have been celebrated in Canterbury for years partly due to their continued endurance. Several businesses were born at the dawn of the pandemic, joining the strong and supportive community that constitutes Canterbury’s independent business.
Karma is one of a kind in the city, putting a new spin on creating garments. With vintage, sustainable and ethically made clothes, they’re on a quest to beat the fast fashion industry. These unique pieces come from India, with remittances sent to Kashmir to support the manufacturers directly. This supports charities such as a Kashmir women’s charity.
Karma officially opened this year, with most of its sales taking place online. But now you have an opportunity to visit their branch near the Cathedral and experience their “Karma vibes”. The businesses’ plan for this year is to spread awareness and become a franchise that will not only attract bohemians and hippies but make a change in the clothing and garment industry.
2. FOND coffee
Managers Kieran and Colin came up with a business model that will cement them in the heart of Canterbury’s businesses. They launched just before the lockdown and were forced to shut down shortly after they started to build momentum. But, after five years of working “behind the scenes”, they were one of the first businesses that opened back up.
They are a part of a barista employment programme, subsidised by the government to help those on universal credit. This cafeteria provides, aside from extraordinary coffee, pastry and other delicious products, an extensive yet minimalistic space. Customers can relax and sink into their seats in “chill-out zones”, or attend live events in an area containing a stage. This summer, Fond is due to explode onto the live music scene, with open-mics, poetry nights, quizzes and more.
3. The Foundry
The only brewery and distillery in Canterbury will re-open on the 17th of May. After a tough year, this business will return with new, exciting things to offer! Last lockdown, Jon Mills the owner, converted leftover beer into 80% sanitiser. This year he’s working on a wide spectrum of English whiskey’s; ranging from a Single malt brewed with yeast from the local Abbey, through to an Oatmeal Stout Whiskey aged in Rum barrels. You will be able to see these in the restaurant later in the year.
Besides that, The Foundry’s popular beer trays will be joined by new spirit trays. Apart from overall expanding and enhancing their products, The Foundry is collaborating with the Cathedral and Prince Golf Club on two new Gins.
Canterbury Wholefoods, a family-run business, is the only vegetarian, wholefoods shop (excluding Holland & Barrett) in Canterbury. Although it’s only been a few years since they’ve settled at the Cathedral Quarter, it’s been treasured by residents for decades. The demand for their products remained constant as they stayed open through most of the pandemic. They’ve newly incorporated delivery services as an adjustment to the lockdown regulations.
They offer fresh food and specialist ingredients, and all you need for a vegan and raw diets. Their ethical approach attracts customers, as there is a growing demand for environmental awareness in business. They value their customers and hope for their various products to not only maintain their popularity but also for it to exceed it.
Don Juan has been thriving during the lockdown – being one of the very few businesses that were able to stay open. Popular destinations for people were outdoor parks, and Don Juan’s food & drink service brought many new customers into the Dane John Gardens.
Be-loved Gringo says, that as the owner, his secret is building a relationship with customers and initiating interaction with them. It’s a family-owned business, built with Gringo’s own hands. But what is evident, is that it was built with heart, soul and enthusiasm also. Latin music, loud conversations, smells and tastes warmed up many in the cold, isolating winter.
Before the pandemic, Don Juan was at a disadvantage, with businesses in the centre creating big competition. Luckily for the business, last year has turned that around, and Don Juan is looking forward to soldiering on to another summer season – stronger than ever before!
River tours are one of the Canterbury’s gems that attract plenty of tourists to the city. The Punting Company has had a turbulent year, but due to strong domestic tourism, they welcomed another season on the 29th of March. During the lockdown, the business went through renovations in their cafeteria area where, along with tourism, hospitality services are provided.
Now, they’ve revamped their tours to go predominantly upstream to the “Island and Tannery”, and their private tours going down through the city. Despite punting is a sessional job, the business has shown a strong and flexible business model, that through adversity adapted and responded quickly to the challenges.