Spotty Dog Farm Shop officially opened on 21st March 2020, just 3 days before the first Lockdown. Great timing eh?
We knew we could serve our community by offering home delivery of essential food items, but we also needed to keep our staff safe. So we decided to keep our doors shut to the public. We shifted the shop around so we could fit in additional food, chilled food storage, and everything we would need to be able to change from being a traditional shop to a busy food distribution centre. We also set up a Safe Zone outside the shop for customers who wanted to shop as part of their daily exercise and collect their orders from us.
We risk assessed our potential new operation. Rewrote all our policies and procedures in conjunction with our staff, so they were happy they would be safe coming in to work every day. Everything happened so quickly! It amazes me now when I look back, at what we actually managed to achieve. Within those first couple of weeks we built an online ordering system so people could order essential food and we also added in some treats including our legendary doughnuts and cakes.
Facing our challenges…
Our customers were amazing! Given it was so difficult to get slots with the big supermarkets, we were able to offer same day delivery to our local customers. We got lots of lovely, supportive messages too. We had people contacting us from all over the country (and even one from Texas) looking for help to provide food deliveries to elderly parents living in our area because they couldn’t get delivery slots with any of the big supermarkets. We didn’t turn anybody away – we were able to deliver to anyone that needed a delivery on the day they wanted it.
It wasn’t easy though. Food supply chains nationally were struggling. Fresh produce prices became volatile and expensive and the quality was often hit and miss as other countries struggled to continue to get their products out and into the UK. But, being a Farm Shop, we already had many local suppliers so we were able to keep much of our range in stock for the most part. Spring is often a difficult time for local fruit & vegetables anyway and as we transitioned from last year’s stored stock to the new, freshly dug seasonal produce. A soggy winter and then a very dry Spring, meant 2020’s local produce was slow to grow and later coming to market.
In May 2020, the Government gave the go-ahead for Garden Centres to open. As a team, we decided that we felt ready to open our doors again to the public. So, after another shift around in the shop and some additional measures that we put in place to keep our customers and our team safe, we did just that. Although we were able to re-open, we still also continued to deliver to many customers who were still shielding.
Fast forward to July 2021….
Restrictions have now officially been lifted. Our Farm Shop and our neighbours at the Rowdey Cow Café are fully open again. There can be no doubt though that Covid and it’s effects are going to be with us for a long time to come. Now we know we can operate our business under complete lockdown or under special measures. We know that we can serve our customers safely whatever situation we find ourselves in. Lockdown was really hard work for us, but we learned so much. Our team is closer and more determined than ever to see our business succeed. We’ve just won our first Award – Muddy Stilettos Best Farm Shop in Wiltshire 2021!
Good to know…..
See our listing on Fabulous Farm Shops
We members of Seasonarians – as a local Farm Shop, it is really important to us that we purchase all of our fresh produce locally. All of our fresh fruit and veg is sourced from a local supplier who buys from local Farms and British wherever possible. When popular ranges aren’t available locally, we’ll let you know where it has come from. Our Butchery range is also reared locally and the vast majority of it is also free range.
Our Milk Vending Machine is stocked with fresh milk that came from a herd of cows that reside in the beautiful village of All Cannings, just 7 miles from here. Our Milk is genuinely incredible fresh and very local! Find out more about Seasonarians and what this organisation stands for HERE.