BUSINESSES in Saltcoats breathed a sigh of relief when they were allowed to welcome customers through their doors as restrictions were relaxed.

And one of them was Eddie Paterson who owns art shop Arti Farti and neighbouring framing store Art N’Joy in Hamilton Street.

Eddie believes during the lockdown more and more people got interested in home improvements and investing in art for their rooms.

He said: “We have had a demand to sell online as more and more of us are taking pride and joy in our homes after all, our home is our castle and why shouldn’t we make it look its best especially as we have been forced to be home more than ever.”

Now Eddie has Michael Scott working with him to expand his business through online sales and in the future hopes to introduce pop up art exhibitions in the Saltcoats store.

“It’s great to have some fantastic original work here in Saltcoats and we want to keep growing by offering online sales and exhibitions.

“We want to bring art to even more people and now that we are open it would be great to have small exhibitions here in Hamilton Street.”

One trader Marion Valenti was frustrated that her business Carmen Lingerie was not classed as an essential shop.

“Underwear is an essential piece of clothing, we all need it, and I cannot work out why I was not allowed to open during the last lockdown,” said Marion.

“I did try and look at click and collect but I’m not great at technology, it was hard as people were phoning begging me to get them bras.

“Now, to be able to open and see people come in and get their underwear and swimwear is just fantastic and I hope that we never have to close our doors again.”

At the other end of the town, in Countess Street, couple Elaine and Stuart Hindmarsh were determined to hold on to their dream of keeping their record shop open.

After retiring from Robertson’s Meats after 30 years, Stuart had a stall at Saltcoats Market before taking the plunge only six weeks after his last day at work and opened the Saltcoats Record Centre.

“It has been so difficult not seeing our regular record buyers every day,” said Elaine.

“We didn’t qualify for financial support during the lockdown as we are a new business but we were determined to keep our wee shop open. And on the Monday when we opened it was as busy as it was during the run up to Christmas. People were popping in just to say hello and of course, to buy some great records.

“We are more than a record shop, we give our customers a cuppa and enjoy a blether about music, the relief to open and to expand our range of stock has made us both so happy.”