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COVID-free Christmas

Festivity is in the air in Glenferrie as the community flocks to support our local traders after a particularly difficult year. Locals are taking full advantage of their newfound freedom to shop local and socialise with friends and family, grabbing Christmas gifts and dining alfresco along Glenferrie Road.

On 27 November, Victoria was determined to have eliminated COVID-19 after recording zero new cases for 28 days straight. Three days earlier, Victoria had recorded no active cases of COVID-19 for the first time since February. At the peak of the pandemic in mid-August, there were over 7,000 active cases in Victoria. This incredible recovery is thanks to the support, effort, and sacrifices of our community to stop the spread. As our city re-opens, this Christmas is set to be one of the best - and most appreciated - one yet.

Left to right: Mai, Emi, Mel and Thy from Grain & Nori

For Mel, the owner of Grain & Nori (Shop 18/674-680 Glenferrie Road), the most important thing is to “stay positive and look forward to better things”. With relaxed restrictions on household gatherings, Mel is excited to celebrate Christmas with her friends and family with a traditional turkey and big sushi platter. “It’ll definitely be the highlight of an isolating year.”

Keft (left) and Freya (right) from Melbourne Pilates Method Studio and Embrace Aesthetics

"It's really nice to be a part of the Glenferrie community, everyone really comes together."

Keft, owner and operator of Melbourne Pilates Method Studio (825 Glenferrie Road), said "it's been great being back. I was Zooming the whole time, but it's nothing like seeing my clients in the flesh and getting back to normal". As her clients all escape the city for the holidays, Keft will be taking three weeks off to spend Christmas with her family in Melbourne, then travelling up to Queensland on Boxing Day.

Freya runs Embrace Aesthetics, a beauty salon at the rear of the pilates studio. Since restrictions relaxed on 23 November, allowing clients to remove their masks for treatments, Freya said it has been lovely "realising how much people actually really want our service and that human contact". She plans to work all the way up until Christmas, where she will have a big, relaxed Christmas lunch with her family at her Mum's house. "Wine, food coma, done,” she laughed.

Laurence (left) and Jackson (right) from The Leaf Store

"The greatest gift I could get this year is the gift of spending time together."

Laurence from The Leaf Store (728 Glenferrie Road) said they feel "so happy to be a part of the Glenferrie community" after the "huge achievement" of opening the store at the start of lockdown in April. The Christmas season is the busiest time of year in their industry, so the team will be "putting 100% effort in to the store and bringing as much festive vibes to Glenferrie as possible". Laurence will be bringing his son, who just turned one, to his Dad’s house for Christmas, where they will celebrate with four generations of family. "There's a real sense of optimism that I hope we all share, and it's going to be a great festive season."

(Left to right) Katie, Michael, and Irene from Glenferrie Optical

"We're like a family here. It's just so nice to see our regulars again."

Glenferrie Optical (671 Glenferrie Road) were quiet over the lockdown, only welcoming customers in for emergency repairs and eye exams. Since they opened up, however, they have been very busy with people coming in for new pairs of glasses and routine check-ups. "It's been amazing," said Katie. "My favourite part of being a local optometrist is that you see people in the community inside of work and outside of work, wearing their new glasses, touching base." For Christmas, Katie is looking forward to continuing her tradition of "eating way too much food and watching way too many Christmas movies".

Nick from First Product

“There’s just so much positivity in the air.”

Since Stage 4 lockdown lifted on 28 October, Nick from First Product (Lido Arcade Shop 1/673-681 Glenferrie Road) is "very grateful to re-open" and feels "a good buzz in the air". Nick will be spending Christmas at his parent's house this year, bringing together a big blend of the Greek and Italian sides of the family. Among other things, Nick always purchases a special Christmas hamper from Haigh's Chocolates for his wife. Meanwhile, his two boys are asking for new phones and a Playstation 5 for Christmas. Nick would like to thank the Glenferrie community for all of their support not only this year, but over the ten years since they opened. "The Glenferrie locals have been so kind to me," he said. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

(Left to right) Teejay, Sally, and Adele from Rhodes Hair and Spa

“We’re so grateful to be able to see our clients. They’ve been incredibly loyal. We’re really lucky.”

Since salons were allowed to re-open on 19 October, Rhodes Hair and Spa (776 Glenferrie Road) have been "absolutely inundated" trying to get everyone in before Christmas. They opened a second salon space a few doors down, designed specifically according to physical distancing regulations. They have been so busy since lockdown lifted that they are expanding into a third salon space upstairs and bringing in more stylists to deal with the demand. Sally has already bought some cute Christmas gifts from Blackbird & Fox. Adele will be spending Christmas with family in Castlemaine, taking a well-earned break after working straight up until Christmas. "This Christmas has positive vibes, there's a good mood around,” she said. “It's summer, the sun's out, I'm really excited to see my family and friends."

Jenny from The House of Franke, Stuart

"This year will be a quiet, reflective Christmas."

Jenny is "hoping this new year will bring bigger and better things" after sadly losing members of her family, who lived in aged care facilities, to COVID-19. Having worked 40 years in the textile industry, Jenny could not be happier to have joined The House of Franke, Stuart (612 Glenferrie Road) earlier this year. "It's been fantastic for me. This place is iconic."

While business will pick up in the new year with the returned trade of the bridal season and dressmakers, owner Ron noted the store "definitely got busier when masks were being made. People who have walked past our store and have been looking in for years with no reason to come in, came in, because suddenly they had a mean, a need, and a travel ban too." He wants the community to know that if they have ever felt curious walking past the store in the 94 years it has stood in Glenferrie, that they are "always welcome to come in and take a look around."

Daniel (left) and client Mark (right) from Jetts Hawthorn

"It's massive to be back. Not just for physical health, but mental health too."

For new manager of Jetts Hawthorn (1/740 Glenferrie Road), Daniel, the best part of gyms re-opening on 9 November has been getting members back in the doors who have not been able to train for up to seven months. "You can do as many online Zoom sessions as you like, but it's just not the same." For Christmas, Daniel will be getting together with all of his family, coming together from three different households. "For the kids, it's all about the presents. For the adults, we love the beers, oysters, prawns. It's just a great excuse to get together for a big shindig.”

Graedon from Red White and Amber with Früh Kölsch

"We do need all the support we can get."

Graedon from Red White and Amber (718 Glenferrie Road) really feels like "one of the lucky ones, I can't say it enough". He believes that this past year has "shown us the importance of shopping locally", and how much our communities need to support local businesses instead of international, imported businesses. Graedon was very excited to show off their special, red-and-white striped German beer for the Christmas season, which he says is "a much than a candy cane for Christmas". For Christmas, he jokes, he will be "collapsing in a heap from tiredness, simply due to 2020".

Elio from Gallery Elysium

"I encourage people to go out and live their life. That's what art is all about: celebrating life, diversity, and individuality."

Elio from Gallery Elysium (440-444 Burwood Road) believes this year has made us all realise "just how valuable time is", which we never appreciate until it is gone. He is hoping for a sense of normality, predictability, and confidence within the community in the new year. “For us, it’s all about beauty, hope, and showing that to people.”

Araxi (left) and Mark (right) from Readings

"Come out and support our local traders who have done it hard this year."

Araxi from Readings (701 Glenferrie Road) feels "such an appreciation to be able to talk to our customers, see them browsing, choosing books. We feel grateful we're here. Some others aren't so lucky". Araxi will be spending a quiet, traditional Christmas with her children and grandchildren. She has already bought gifts from Red White and Amber, Haigh’s Chocolates, and Blackbird & Fox. Working in retail, "it's so nice to have a lazy, relaxed Christmas. And my younger daughter loves a tipple, so there's always plenty of bubbles."

Neil from Experimac

"People are looking local much more these days."

While not much has changed at Experimac (823 Glenferrie Road), Neil has noticed “people are more aware of us. I think people really realise the need for local business, and that they need to support local especially if anything like this happens again". More new local customers have been coming in gearing up to the back-to-school season, and "our regular customers have been fantastic as always". While he mostly leaves the gift-buying to his wife, Neil always walks down Glenferrie Road for ideas, trying to support Glenferrie traders as much as he can. What Neil wants most for Christmas, however, is a big sleep-in on Christmas day.

Annie (left) and Astrie (right) from Kürtősh

“The Glenferrie community have been really supportive.”

Since they only opened in June of this year, Annie from Kürtősh (Lido Arcade Shop 12-14/673-681 Glenferrie Road) said the team feels "very hopeful" and "grateful everything is open again". The team have been spending time decorating the store to "bring back the festive atmosphere" heading into December. Annie is looking forward to going out to eat and spending Christmas with friends and family. Most of all, she is excited to enjoy the summer, go to the beach, and explore the local area, having moved to Melbourne earlier in the year.

Cathy from Picasso’s Cafe

“I've found people have come out of lockdown with a lot of optimism."

Christmas is one of the best days of the year for Cathy from Picasso's Cafe (690 Glenferrie Road). "I can't wait for Christmas Day, to see my friends and family," she said. "We always have a big spread. I love to cook, and I love a tipple." Cathy is a big candle buyer, and said you "can't go wrong" at Homing Instincts for gifts. She said the team feel very grateful to still be here. "I think people forget to just breathe. We've been pretty lucky. Life's too short, just enjoy yourself. Be nice to each other, be kind to one another, and support each other, and we'll get through this."

Ann from Southern Cross Candle Shop

“Christmas is a really special time.”

After being at home since March, it has been "really exciting" to come out of lockdown for Ann from the Southern Cross Christian Candle Shop (608 Glenferrie Road). She is looking forward to selling their famous nativity scenes to the Glenferrie community again this year, which are especially popular with the kids. Each Christmas, Ann goes to a morning service at one of the local churches, and then "the whole family gets together. A lot of them live in the country. I have seven children, and by the time you add spouses and grandchildren, there's a lot of us.”

(Left to right) Jongwon, In, Jun and Jake from Zen Japanese Restaurant

“I’m excited to go back to normal.”

In from Zen Japanese Restaurant (388 Burwood Road) feels very grateful he has been able to keep his doors open and his staff employed. In has not had a proper break since he opened the restaurant twelve years ago, so he took the opportunity to give away his shifts to his staff to help them survive lockdown, and so he could spend more time at home with his family. In is excited to celebrate Christmas with his team at the restaurant and with his family in their brand new Hawthorn apartment. "We are so grateful to belong to the Glenferrie community," he said. "Thank you for always supporting us.”

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