These range from difficulty in getting government grants to issues surrounding furlough and, crucially, the lack of understanding and support from landlords.

These are problems which have affected all kinds of businesses up and down the country, but they have probably hit antiques dealers more than most because of the independent nature of the trade.

Of course, we at Grays have also been confronted with challenges and have suffered from the fallout of the pandemic. So far we have survived its onslaught partly thanks to the understanding and support of Bennie Gray, who has allowed us to remain free of charge throughout April, May and June and, more recently, now we have reopened, an ongoing discount of 66% on our monthly licence fees.

He has ensured his staff were in contact with us weekly throughout lockdown to check on our well-being. They also gave us the latest information regarding government initiatives which we may have missed.

Thanks to these efforts, which helped us all survive the last few difficult months, we have positive thoughts for the future. After all, we are a commercially fertile working community of 80 small businesses with an established global customer base going back more than 40 years.

Also, the spacious Grays building lends itself to safety measures more than most – especially social distancing which is already proving itself to be very important to our more vulnerable and elderly customers.

We write this letter simply to point out important distinctions between Grays and some other clusters of antiques dealers and to publicly thank Bennie for his considerate understanding as to how the lockdown would affect us.

Grays dealers