Could you start by telling us how the last few weeks have been for you?
Hectic, in a word. As soon as the lockdown kicked in, people were googling to see what was around locally or available for delivery. Obviously, this was very positive, but as we only produce on a small scale, it was difficult to know how best to manage – though we seem to have got into a good routine now. The abattoirs have been really busy, too, but we have a regular slot now. We do our butchery on a Thursday and deliveries on a Friday, then Saturday is our Community Shop.
What positive steps have you taken to get through the lockdown?
Having taken delivery of our H-Van at the back end of last year, we planned to open a mobile community shop at the end of March. This was to be on a Thursday or Friday, as our weekends were pretty booked up with events and shows etc. The landlord at the Hare and Hounds said we could use the forecourt there, so we got the green light from Tandridge council to go ahead. We launched ‘Maude’, our mobile community shop, on Saturday March 21, with social distancing marks on the ground and encouraging contactless payment. We had a few local suppliers on board as well, so they were very happy too. In addition, we offer free local delivery for orders over £30, which has been helpful for those shielding and/or vulnerable. Lastly, we also took the opportunity to re-do our website so that we are able to attract a far wider audience.
Are there any innovations of which you are particularly proud?
We are very pleased with the website, which has definitely had an impact on sales, and there is also an easy-to-use enquiry form. However, I think we are most proud of the ‘Maude’ mobile shop – and how Garry has managed, along with support from Debbie, to get it up and running so efficiently.
How have your customers been supporting you during this time?
We have lots of new customers as well as loyal customers who come back week after week for their fresh meat. They are also supporting us by leaving positive feedback on social media too.
Are there any special measures you’ll be bringing in once you re-open/get back to more normality?
Fortunately, we have managed to stay open throughout. When larger gatherings are allowed and the events and festivals restart, we will be following the guidelines set out at the time.
Why is it so important that people ‘Stay Loyal To Local’ going forward?
‘Stay Loyal to Local’ is important because it supports local producers and the farming industry. Local economies will start to thrive again. It also encourages a sense of community spirit with people starting to talk to their neighbours and not just nodding as they pass in a hurry. It will hopefully make people realise that there is plenty going on nearby so they don’t have to venture miles unnecessarily.
What’s the best way that our community can do that for now?
Shop locally, and only use the big supermarkets for things you can’t get locally. When you find something nearby, spread the word!
Stay Loyal to Local campaign