Located on Enniskillen’s High Street, Osborne & Co is a family-run store and one of the town’s most beloved independent retailers.
Sisters-in-law Julie Kenwell and Elaine Godfrey offer statement furniture, bespoke interior designs, giftware and more.
After opening almost three years ago – and despite the pandemic making it a difficult year for our high streets – the pair have never lost their love and spirit for the business.
Speaking to MyFermanagh, they said: “Osborne’s is a sister store to AE Kenwell’s in Dromore, a family business which has been in existence for over 100 years – we have a bit of catching up to do before we reach that amazing milestone though.
“Just as Kenwell’s was named after Elaine’s grandfather, Osborne’s is named after her grandmother’s maiden name.
Elaine and Julie opened the store in 2018
“We opened our doors for the first time at the end of October 2018 after a manic few months of giving 22 High Street a serious facelift.”
With the pandemic changing the way that people shop and causing major disruption to businesses, Julie and Elaine credit the local community for their continued support.
“We think it’s fair to say that our customers and our community have meant more to us over the last year than ever before.
“It wasn’t just how we were supported through sales in the midst of repeated lockdowns, it was also the amazing messages of support and the kindness shown to us from people across the country.
“We were very humbled by how people went out of their way to support us when our doors were shut. Our community really kept us going and we will always be extremely thankful for that,” they explained.
Despite being closed over March and April this year, Osborne & Co ended up having their strongest performing Mother’s Day and Easter to date.
They said: “It’s because of this support that we have now been able to invest more than ever before into new stock for the coming seasons and we are so excited to see where these next steps take us on our retail journey – that is the power of supporting local.”
Inside Osborne & Co
As a an independent retailer trying to operate through the uncertainty of the pandemic, Julie and Elaine believe that “you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself”.
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They said: “You just have to keep your head up and keep going and to be honest, we are so thankful that we did have that mentality.
“It is what secured our survival through this – during the first lockdown we invested our time in forming a meaningful relationship with our customers online and we feel that was the best decision we ever made.
“It has been extremely rewarding to be able to get to know who our customers are and in turn, we saw our online shop go from strength to strength.
“We were very much counting our lucky stars that we had a reason to get up in the morning and now when we look back at our time through lockdown we can only really remember all the craic and banter we had each day.”
Discussing why it is more important than ever for customers to shop and support local, the pair explained that even by just tagging a business in an online post or sharing their content can make a huge difference.
Elaine and Julie said: “Our local shops are still trying to pick themselves up and get back on their feet after the most challenging period any of us have ever faced and in order to keep our lovely independents on our streets, they need your support.
“Positive word of mouth is such a powerful advertisement for any small, local business and I can assure you, it is never taken for granted.
“We are completely inspired by the work that Holly Tucker MBE is doing to drive the message home that “shopping local” is such an important and vital thing for all of us to do for our local community.
They have thanked the local community for continuing to support their business even while the doors were shut
“There is so much potential for our local town centres if we all make those steps towards voting with our money in the right way.”
Looking to the future, Osborne & Co hope they can continue to build on the amazing relationship they managed to form with their customers over lockdown.
“We’d like to see the online side of our store continue to flourish and complement our physical shop because nothing beats being able to walk through the doors of a bricks and mortar small business and soak up the atmosphere and see the products up close.
“We are loving being back open again and the feedback we have received from customers about what we did over lockdown has seriously done our hearts good.
“Not that we would want to go back into another lockdown again but we think in some ways it really was the making of us and for that we are very very thankful.”