The owner of a small, independent business in Marlow Bottom has pleaded with the public to support local traders during the pandemic.

Gav Singh, who owns Oysters Fish and Chips on Brucewood Parade, exclusively told the Free Press that since the beginning of lockdown in March, work has been ‘difficult’ due to the slow days in the week, before dealing with a huge rush of customers on a Friday.

He confirmed that he has had to hire more staff despite earning less income, but he hopes that ‘it’ll be OK and we will be able to laugh’ once the pandemic is over.

Speaking to the Free Press, Mr Singh said: “During the start of lockdown, a lot of catering places didn’t close, and they made the most of the situation.

“We didn’t do that.

“We put the welfare of our staff and customers first and we got in contact with our governing body, the National Federation of Fish Friers, and they said closing would be the morally correct thing to do.

“We shut up shop for about six weeks and ever since we reopened, we have had to implement an app/ordering system.

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“This can be tricky at times because if they [the click and collect], don’t turn up on time, you open yourself up to a lot more potential dissatisfied customers, because if the food is late to them, then it is bound to be our fault.

“Since reopening, we have had to employ more staff, we have had less business as we are only open for limited hours, and our costs have increased due to the additional staffing.

“Friday is our busiest day, but during the rest of the week, we don’t even get 15 per cent of what we would get on a Friday.

“That’s how slow our Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays have been.

“This puts us under a lot of pressure, as people want to eat fish and chips on a Friday.”

Due to lockdown, many independent businesses across the UK have suffered, with some even closing permanently.

One of these businesses was the Marlow Barbershop, which sat proudly on Station Road for 54 years.

Due to Richard Silver, the owner of the shop, getting cancer on top of the outbreak of Covid-19, his business closed for good in May, despite being packed with customers only a few months before lockdown.

However, many Marlovians, since lockdown restrictions have eased, have been seen using independent businesses across the town, to support shop owners in the current health and economic crisis.

Mr Singh continued: “I think it is absolutely key to use independent businesses.

"For us, personally, it will be 11 years on March 8, and every year, it gets tougher.

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"Every year we have to reinvent ourselves, but we’re hopeful that when we come out of the other end of this pandemic, we’ll be OK and we’ll laugh.

"But, it is a case of having people relying on you to help pay their rent, mortgage, to help put food on the table for their children, so even though it ultimately isn’t your problem, it becomes your problem when you’re a small, independent business.

"We’re an independent, family-oriented business and we are nothing without our community.

"But if our community wants us to be here in the next 10, 15, 20, 25 years, then they have to commit to us.

"We value every penny that they spend with us."