WITH all the economic pressures forced on businesses by the coronavirus pandemic, it has never been more important to shop local.

Not only do these businesses need our help to survive, but many of them have adapted considerably during the crisis in an effort to serve their customers.

One such store is Julie’s Top Shop on South Road in Prudhoe - who has been nominated as this week’s Trader of the Week.

The shop, which is owned and operated by Julie Cattanach, saw its usual income stream of school pupils dry up during the first lockdown when the schools were closed - but has adapted by bringing in more local produce and operating a new delivery service.

Julie said; “The biggest change was not having the children coming in - we’re right in the middle of three schools.

“But local people started using us more, and we started looking for local produce like Grants the Butchers to supply us.

“We get all our vegetables from the market and we support two local bakeries too. We try to support other local businesses.

“We’ve stated doing the home deliveries too, people have been really grateful. We’ve also took on more people who couldn’t get out for their papers.

“It was a busy year - it just took the shop into a different direction. We were known for selling sweeties before, and now we’re used for much more.People don’t want to go far, they want to get everything from us.

“We’ve also started doing ice cream and we’ve got a coffee machine now - we have a couple that come in everyday on their walk for coffee and cake.”

Julie also paid tribute to her staff team for their help during the pandemic.

She added: “I’ve got wonderful staff. They make a big difference to the running of the shop.

“I’ve got one full time staff member, Becca, and I’ve taken on two young ones from the high school.”

The trader of the week prize was launched by the Hexham Courant last April to recognise those businesses who have gone above and beyond to help their communties during the pandemic.

Julie’s Top Shop was nominated by local councillor, Gordon Stewart - but Julie was surprised that all her efforts had been recognised.

She continued: “We’re feeling quite good about ourselves! We’re just off Prudhoe and sometimes we just get forgotten about. It’s really nice to know that people think we’re doing a good job.

“I’d have never thought somebody would have nominated us.