by H. Linens on 10-03-2021
Lost for words..? Our owner, Joe, could hardly ever be accused of that! Those of you who know him from visting the shop will know of his silver tongued eloquence and his disarming demeanor (he told us to say that). Or maybe you’ve heard him on the radio where he is a frequent contributor on “The Opinion Line” with P.J. Coogan on Cork’s 96fm… Only last week he spoke with P.J. about the seeming inequities where small independent retailers like Household Linens are closed while larger department stores and multinationals are allowed to stay open with seemingly no restictions. Joe’s piece drew a huge response and our Facebook page had hundreds of comments afterwards.
But something happened this week that has left him (almost) lost for words. In 2006 Household Linens were named winners of “Best Retail Frontage (Small Independent)” in Cork City Council’s annual “Better Buildings Awards”… The Cork Business Association have just released their list of nominees for “Cork’s Retailer of the Year” and Household Linens have been named as one of the three finalists along with “The Kilkenny Shop” & “Red Church Menswear”! Of the three, Household Linens are the longest trading companies in Cork (now 44 years having been established in 1977 by Con Murphy, a native of Inchigeela). Joe attributes the stores success to several factors…
“The people of Cork have always supported their own and we have been extremely fortunate to have built up a loyal customer base who have shopped with us through good times and bad. Their good will has lifted us on dark days and their courtesy and good humour makes coming to work much less of a chore. Secondly (but equally), I have been blessed with great staff – girls who are eager to learn and pass that knowledge on to our customers, many of whom we would consider now as friends”. Joe admitted to us that the hardest thing he has had to do over the last months of lockdown has been to go in to an empty shop every day because it’s the staff and the interactions and the banter that make it seem almost like a second home.
But Household Linens is not unique in Cork, or even on Oliver Plunkett St., to share the same values… Just down the road you will find Eleanor & Anne Galligan of “Galligan’s Fabrics”. Anne’s father founded the shop in 1919 and they are the oldest store still trading and again – it is because the service they offer is second to none. Maybe that’s another example of why Cork was named as Ireland’s Friendliest City for 2020 in the Retail Ireland Excellence Annual Awards. The City Council have played their part; in conjunction with the C.B.A.. they have launched a major intiative on social media aimed at supporting city centre businesses. The ‘Cork City Shopping’ social media channels are available on Facebook (@corkcityshopping), Instagram (@corkcityshopping) and Twitter (@corkshopping). They also launched www.corkcityshopping.com an online portal for visitors and locals alike to find the best of what’s on offer in Cork shopping. This was on the back of their 2019 initiative in launching a Cork City Customer Service Charter.The Charter, which was the first of its kind in Europe, was developed to create a city of superior customer service and assist Cork’s journey to becoming one of the friendliest, most liveable and sustainable cities globally.
So, all the plans have been put in place and the C.B.A. Awards on April 17th. are just another indicator that businesses in Cork, especially retailers, will be ready to open their doors with a bang when given the green light. That day can’t come soon enough but Joe ends our chat on a sobering note…
“You know, I lost a first cousin to Covid – she was one of the most gentle, loving souls you could meet and we shared the same birthday. She will be so sadly missed by her family, all her cousins who adored her, her neighbours and many friends. If even one person was to pass away because of Household Linens then I’d shut the door in the morning because life is too precious. I’m really looking forward to seeing my staff and all our customers and friends but health is wealth so #StaySafe and visit us at www.householdlinens.ie instead”.
The C.B.A. “Cork Business of the Year Awards will be held virtually on April 17th. and you can find more information (and vote!) here… https://cbaawards.ie