Hello all, well it is a New Year same old (you know what), and in lockdown No3, but for now this newsletter will concentrate on lockdown No2.

Two quick updates before we start, I am pleased to report no one else has escaped from our local hospital, and more pleasing for us is that one Thursday morning during lockdown, we arrived at the shop to discover all the bollards have been removed, I never thought I would be so excited about missing bollards, (rumour is the council took them away) and that is all I know.  

ALERT IRRUPT!

About 3 weeks before lockdown, on a Friday lunchtime I was dealing with a transaction on our card machine, when suddenly it made a horrible noise and what appeared on the screen was, ALERT IRRUPT!    

I had no idea what was going on, so I turned it off and back on again, but that did not help, all it did was cause the machine to print off lots of unintelligible numbers, so I rang the card machine company, and all I could initially get out of them was that I need a new machine, and it could take up to 5 working days.   

This was not what I wanted to hear, what I did want to know was what was happening, (believe me it was like pulling teeth to get an answer). Turns out ALERT IRRUPT! means a software failure, this also meant no card payments for the foreseeable.

I wrote a quick sign to put on the door explaining why it was cash only, which was a problem for some as they don’t carry cash and our local bank closed down in March, in fact this made quite a few of our customers realise that you shouldn’t just rely on technology, as my Dad is always saying “You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket”.

The conclusion to this story is surprise, surprise, first thing Monday morning our new machine turned up, with an engineer in tow to install it for us, what a relief.        

One thing I did discover during these couple of days was, I’ve had signs on the door explaining only one in the shop at any one time, and also please wear a mask, the amount of people who don’t see them, but you place a sign on the door with the word cash on it and everyone sees it! 

 

NON-ESSENTIAL (SERIOUSLY!)

Well, it came as a huge shock to discover this, as we were able to stay open the first-time round. I am aware that many of you have already been doing click and collect (or in our case now phone and collect) but this was new to us.

I am so grateful to my daughter Gemma who has been helping us since the summer, she got her thinking cap on and came up with a system for us.

We ended up with her desk and Dad’s pasting table in the shop, with boxes on them for the orders and a huge note pad, we had to invest in a new doorbell as the original one had given up the ghost, plus other ways to make things easier but I won’t bore you with the details.

Turns out Phone, Text, Email, WhatsApp and collect (to be precise) is not as easy as it sounds and it took us a couple of weeks to get a rhythm, but we pulled it off.

We did manage to hand out leaflets that Dad had organised a couple of days before lockdown kicked in, but most customers had no idea what was going on. Many of them would ring us while standing outside, some would just come to the door and give their order there and then. This was proving difficult as we are on a main road, so the traffic sound was terrific (especially when it was raining).

We did lose some trade but generally we did ok, (it kept us going), but wow was it cold, standing at the door taking payments etc, we are so happy to now be the right side of the counter and in the warm.

DODGY DEALINGS.

One Saturday afternoon Gemma was serving a customer at the door, when this young lad shouts from behind him, “would you like to buy some of these?”

We could not believe what we were seeing, he had his hands full of tubes of Germolene, (I mean of all the things), clearly, he must had robbed them, it’s the most oddest thing to have an abundance of, and not the most practical if you want to sell something on the streets.

PHONE SHOP

The other funny situation was, I answered the door to a chap outside asking to buy a phone battery, I tried to explain we were a Tobacconists, but he would not believe me, and do you know why? Because part of the phone and collect notice on the door had the word “phone”, therefore he assumed we were a phone shop. It takes all sorts.

TO SUM UP

So, two things we have learnt from this newsletter, No1 never give up on cash you never know when you may need it, and No2 if you want customers to notice a sign on your door, make sure you write the word cash on it!

So, as I said at the beginning we are now In lockdown No3, which I will cover in the next newsletter, but what I will say for now is it’s like dealing with children or training dogs, (I’m not joking). So, till next time, and take care.