You may or may not know that we also run the shop on the seafront in the village of Broad Haven. This year is a significant anniversary and the boss was moved to write an article for the local community newsletter. We have reproduced it below so that you can read about some of the affects of lock down in a small seaside community.
“This March I was supposed to be writing an article for the community diary about the fact that April was the 25th Anniversary of Seaview Mini Market becoming a Londis store and then, of course, the world had to pause!!
Back in 2006 we published a series of articles in the diary about the first 60 years of trading for Mocks shop/Seaview Mini Market and the idea was to continue the series to recognise this new milestone for the store, but I find myself currently only able to reflect on these extraordinary times that we are living through.
It all started in March with social distancing and the warmest weekend we had seen so far this year. On the one hand I was receiving offers of help to deliver essential supplies to those who were already self-isolating with underlying health issues, whilst on the other we had more people wandering into the shop looking for ice-creams than we had seen since last September. It was clear that the government had no choice but to put the country into lock down. We were all grounded!!
So, we swung into action. Whilst it is never a good time for things like this to happen it was a truly difficult time for us. We had just invested in a new till and stock system and were still trying to iron out the bugs and learn how to use it properly. In the space of one day the helpline managed to set us up for taking card payments over the phone and we put together order forms and a food safety compliant system that would enable us to get food items and other essentials to those who needed it most. Nathan ensured that the boys and I would be able to access the work computers from home and carry on placing orders should the worst came to the worst and we ended up having to self-isolate. Thank you to Ricky Hardy (the village’s flooring specialist) and Graeme (the oldest delivery boys the shop has ever had) for all the boxes they have dropped off. You have done a great job putting up with the inevitable mistakes we made. We know many many more of you volunteered and you can rest assured that had you been needed we would have been in contact.
Next came the physical alterations in the shop. Jamie and I had great fun one Sunday morning measuring and marking out 2 metre sections on the floor, up and down the aisles as well as in the office and store room. Thanks must go to Tom – The Garden Doctor – for picking up the materials to make the screens for the till area and to the resident handy man, Stuart, for the design and construction of them. Thank you also to Bluesky media for the promotional video letting people see what we were able to provide.
Throughout all of this there was of course the shortages of certain products because of panic buying across the country. We did a lot of “outside the box thinking” and at one stage even raided our holiday apartments above the shop for toilet paper to keep people going until more supplies came in. Of course, all the basics ie milk, eggs, meat, potatoes and butter were sourced from local suppliers. We should thank Totally Welsh, Jon James the butcher, Pembrokeshire Foods and Ratford Farm for helping us to make sure that nobody in our community needed to go without basic foodstuffs. No one was going to go hungry in the Havens on our watch. We must also mention the sterling efforts made by our toy supplier managing to get hand gel and liquid soaps to us. The donation of local honey was also very welcome and distributed as far and wide as we were able.
The post office has been extremely busy as everybody at home has been ordering on the internet and then returning the items that don’t fit or work properly. Our postie has told us that the volume of mail going through the sorting office has been the same as at Christmas but at a time when less staff are able to work because of social distancing regulations. Many people have also been relying on the good old Royal Mail to send gifts to loved ones over the Easter break.
Our Londis delivery drivers and those that work for other companies and courier firms have been superb. We have gotten to know many more than usual. They have faced some extreme challenges not least the effect that all public toilets being closed has produced. This has caused an unusual strain on the delivery people and posties keeping the country supplied.
Looking back over the last few weeks it has been amazing how quickly we have gotten used to the phones ringing constantly with orders and staff turning into personal shoppers. We all get our 10,000 steps in every day as we carry out that awkward dance around the shop to stay 2 metres away from people. For the first time in living memory I spent large parts of a bank holiday Easter weekend in my garden. Unheard of these days. Frustratingly, I couldn’t go to the garden centre, but I treasured the time listening to the birds and the sea rather than the engines in the car park.
What have we learnt? That there is much to be gained from a slower pace of life. We don’t have to travel to meetings and just because somebody isn’t close by doesn’t mean we can’t stay in touch and see their faces on the phone. Hugs with grandchildren just have to be virtual for a while, but kisses can be blown. Globalisation has made the world a smaller place, but that meant disease spread quickly. We haven’t had to cut ourselves off though as technology has allowed us to stay in touch with loved ones and connect with the isolated. But it is the smaller communities that have come to the fore and supported each other during this time of crisis. Streets and villages looking after their friends and neighbours. It is this that I hope we are able to take forward after the nasty little bugs have gone and remember who was there for each of us during this difficult time.
I have also remembered why we are all so lucky living where we do and why so many people visit here every year to share in our good fortune. We have been grateful that these same people have stayed away during the crisis, but we desperately need them to come back if the shops, cafes and pubs are going to survive to the same standards that we currently enjoy. There is a downside to being a destination for tourists but the work and opportunities they provide must not be forgotten.
I cannot finish this without thanking all of our amazing staff. We couldn’t have done any of this without them and their willingness to adjust and accommodate all the changes going on around them. Thank you also to Helen Dare for co-ordinating additional help that people needed and acting as a sounding board for me when I needed to let off steam. And finally thank you to all of our customers for putting up with all of the changes in store, supporting us throughout and the boxes of chocolates, messages of support and donations to the party we will definitely be having once this is all over. With your continued support year round we will get through this.