A Birchington family has bucked the trend by launching their new business amid Tier 4 and then national lockdown covid restrictions – with a brilliant response including from online savvy pensioners.
Justin Coppin, 48, and wife Vicky are the owners of That Furniture Shop based in the former Costa Coffee building in Birchington’s Station Road.
The couple, who are parents to Kacey, 18, Sid, 11, and three-year-old Marley, received the keys to the building in November. After stripping out the site and rewiring, refurbishing and redecorating, they opened online- due to covid restrictions – last month.
Former Hartsdown student Justin has worked in the furniture business for some 25 years but this is his first solo venture.
He said: “I thought going out on my own would be scary but the backing of other people, and 25 years experience in the business, confirmed it’s a good idea and that has been proven so far, touch wood, as we have been very busy online.
“We have had lots of support from locals which is really nice. Our online sales have been decent and we are all working together.
“It has gone even better than I thought it would and I really didn’t expect so many of the older generation, in their 70s and 80s, to be online. It really gives that village feel that I love.”
Justin says there has also been a lot of hard work in preparing the shop in the village.
He said: “We took the keys in mid November and did a lot of work rewiring, redecorating, screeding, doing the floors, lots of jobs. It felt at first like we weren’t getting anywhere but now it’s all done in gold and green, the van is being sign written and we have designed our own logos.
“I’m trying not to be run of the mill and we have things you can’t get anywhere else.”
Justin, who also worked a stint as a Dreamland ride operator before getting into the furniture trade, says he is enjoying the challenge.
He said: “I have always worked, I like money and I don’t like being bored! I like living on the edge a little bit so am not worrying about having no guaranteed wage.”
That Furniture Shop is filled with all sorts of unusual treasures, many with a distinctive Birchington theme.
The couple hope to open the doors to the shop as soon as government guidelines allow.