Norma Arthur, manager of Amble Pin Cushion, feared the worst when she was forced to close her Queen Street shop when lockdown hit in March.
Along with many other small businesses, she wondered if her craft and alterations shop could survive a lengthy period without income, and whether all staff would be retained.
Thanks to financial support from the government and the resurgence of interest in sewing, knitting and crafting it has turned out to be busier than ever.
Phone and web orders came in thick and fast, for fabric, elastic and craft kits, and even yarn samples were popped through the letterbox for button colour-matching.
Daily orders were made up, posted, delivered locally or collected from the door.
Now, the business has been nominated in the British Sewing Awards Best independent haberdashery shop in the North East.
The shop reopened in mid-June but with reduced opening hours, selling from the door, or by bookable browsing appointment.
Although courses are unable to run, it is still doing well.
Face mask manufacture has boosted business, allowing staff to gradually come back off furlough.
As well as making-to-order for the local market, masks have been sent all over the country, and have been made in larger batches for businesses. These include food outlets, security firms, dry cleaners, car dealerships and, most recently, the Newcastle Centre for Life, which has ordered a second quantity of dinosaur masks for their staff and souvenir shop.
Norma said: “Companies have recognised that we are producing a quality mask with filter layer, which can be washed at 60° and, most importantly, is comfortable to wear, and fits well due to the malleus nose strip.”
The company also recently won the Northumberland ‘Lifestyle Store of the Year’ Prestige Award. Judges were impressed by its support from the local community, evident in their social media feedback, and with their website and branding.
It expects to be so busy that it is looking to take on an apprentice, with details on its Facebook page.
Vote for Amble Pin Cushion at the British Sewing Awards before October 23 at https://acevillepublications.typeform.com/to/ngbpV75S