😷😷😷 First week open now completed... Life open in Lockdown from our viewpoint 😬😬

Firstly we hope you and your family and friends are safe and well whilst you are reading this. What awful times for everyone! Like all none essential businesses we shut on 23rd March and furloughed our staff. We also made the tough choice to make some short term staff cuts as we knew when we returned we would be operating on a skeleton crew. We hope that these members of staff will be rehired in the long run. 

After preparation, implementation of protection measures and careful checking of government guidelines to ensure our compliance, we reopened our doors for the first time since Lockdown began. We would like to give you a review of what's it is like from our side of the fence after reopening for the first time. 

We walked into the shop and everything had a layer of dust on it!! The boards were still over the windows, this made the whole thing seem very surreal. It was like walking onto a movie set but in a shop we have worked with for over 10 years. It was dark and eerie. 

We took down the boarding and cleaned and dusted all our stock. We began replacing higher value items like TVs and Laptops back on to the display having removed them from sight. The next task was to implement protection measures like a screen around the counter.

We had a discussion with our staff about the measures we were putting into place to ensure that those returning to work were aware of new policy and procedures to ensure that everyone was as protected as possible.  It is not an easy time to return to work especially after so long being off and with thoughts being about the safety of each member of staff and their families. We agreed to a revised schedule of opening times and some working from home to allow all tasks to be completed and for us to reopen albeit with reduced hours and staff on site.

Monday came quick with trepidation about how things were going to go. Worries about whether the systems we had put in place were going to work, could we keep everyone protected whilst on our premises, could we function with these systems in place, would anyone even come back? It was a stressful return to say the least. 

I go to work 11am Monday morning with mixed feelings. I was pleased to be returning to work. For the most part I do enjoy my job and I was keen for a return to some semblance of normalcy even if it was more like living in a weird disaster movie! 😬😬😬 I half expected us to see no one. 

The considerations required to allow us to reopen seemed huge. Monday came and went and to my surprise we were relatively busy. Before I knew it, it was lock up time and we were going home! It seemed to go crazy fast with only a few minor hiccups. Some of these were explaining to people about the fact that like other businesses and shops that the screen, gloves, procedures and practices were there to protect them as much as us. 

When people go to Tesco, Aldi or any other supermarket, in our case The Co-op, it seems to b taken for granted now that there will be a requirement for queuing, allowing staff to wipe down baskets and surfaces commonly touched and keeping the required distance. With smaller shops like ours where people have not been able to visit in some time these things seem to be forgotten and unexpected. 

We have a duty to protect everyone against the spread of the Covid-19 virus and to do our part in slowing the spread. We do not want to put our staff our customers at any risk. We ask that customers have the same attitude and willingness to be patient when visiting us as the do when getting their shopping. 

We have hand sanitizer on the counter to be used before touching our card machine. We have had to ask several customers to ensure they use it first. The other big thing we are asking of customers is that they do not touch staff, furniture or stock in the shop. Everything that people touch has to be wiped before the next customer comes in. This can therefore increase waiting times and cause delayed service. Please help us to protect everyone and refrain from touching. If you really need to look and handle things please ask us for some gloves and use the sanitizer provided! 

All in all the first week passed by in a blur. It went so fast. We have been busier than we expected and it is great to see customers coming through the door. We appreciate the support of our loyal, returning customers and those coming to us for the first time. These are not easy times and competition is higher than it has ever been. Stock is low all over the country for a number of goods. We are struggling like many others. The government has done an amazing job of trying to support people and ensure the survival of businesses but times are tough. 

 So for the present we will carry on as best we can. We hope to return in the near future to more regular extended hours but for the present time we will continue to operate within the guidelines that the government sets. Please bear with us at this time to allow us to do the best we can. Parts are taking a little longer than normal to arrive but spare a thought for the delivery people's at this time whom like NHS are essential workers and they put themselves at risk to ensure that the stuff that is ordered reaches its location as quickly as possible. 

We would like to thank all essential workers from the bottom of the chain upwards that have done an amazing job of keeping us safe, supplied and alive during what are harsh and terrifying times. From all of our staff - thank you very much!

Stay safe. We hope to see more of you return in the coming weeks. 

Kelly, Chris and our staff. 😊😊

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