Hello all, well it's finally over (the lockdown) and what a pleasant relief it is to be fully open again. So here is a snapshot of what it was like for us here. PULLING TEETH We made it quite clear on social media, Google, the leaflets that we handed out in advance, and 2 posters on our door that people that had to pre-order, and give us at least 30 minutes to get their order ready. I would say about 75% were compliant, but the rest, well, what can I say? Yes, some were phoning up but informing us they were just round the corner, or 10 minutes away, we would tell them they needed to give us more time, there were apologies thrown around, and then the next week the same thing would happen again, so we would ask them to wait whether they needed to or not, just to make a point. Some would just turn up at the door, so I would tell them if they didn’t ring next time, I wouldn’t serve them, especially with a couple of them who at one point were phoning up first, the one chap said “Oh well it doesn’t matter” (well I wasn’t having that!) The whole process of phone and collect is stressful enough without the customers not complying It got to the point we were so stressed by it we needed to find a way to make it less miserable, so we decided to do a tally chart for each day (try to make a bit of fun out of it) and it actually helped. The average was about 10 per day, we did hit 20 once, and the least was 3. THE DOG ATE MY PHONE These are some of the excuses we were given, in no particular order. I was walking my dog in the local park. The phone was in my boot. Your number was in the car, but it got soggy. I did not know there was a lockdown. Well, I don’t have to ring when I came into the shop. I don’t want to buy much. Here is the best one and truthfully, I didn’t tell him off as it was so funny. This one chap didn’t ring as he is a bus driver on his route, he parked up across the road blocking an entrance, which he pointed out to us when he arrived at the door. “Well, I need some tobacco and it’s the only chance I will get”. It turns out he once did the same when he was hungry and wanted some chips, there was a little old lady on the bus, and she was ok with it just as long as he shared them with her! (pre virus of course). When he left, we had a look out of our window at the bus, the lights had all been turned off but there must have been at least ten people sitting there in the dark. So bad of him but so comical at the same time. (What people will do for a smoke). THE FLIP SIDE Just to be fair to the customers who rang very much in advance, yet again in no particular order. I’m just going to wash my hair first. I’m just having a cuppa. I’m going to sit in my car and eat my bacon and egg sandwich. I’m going to pot up my plants. I’m going to take the dogs for a walk. I’ll just finish decorating the bathroom. I like these customers; they are not on the naughty list. SPEND A PENNY One of our regulars arrived the one day to collect his pipe tobacco, and was bouncing up and down making some very strange noises - I thought, what is up with him? He then asked if he could use our toilet (I mean, absolutely not). I explained to him that you’re not allowed to enter the shop let alone use our facilities (just imagine if one of the Covid marshals had come along at that point?). He then proceeded to ask where the nearest park was. DEAFENING The shop next door to us has been empty for over ten years, but two weeks before the end of lockdown builders moved in. They proceeded to remove a fireplace; it was like a pneumatic drill coming through the walls. Gemma and I could not have a conversation face to face, so trying to take phone orders was nigh on impossible - we were having to go upstairs to hear them. Ten years and they could not wait another few weeks! Typical. JOYFUL That is how I would describe being open properly again. No stress, less walking and less answering the phone. Some customers are ringing up just to check we are actually open and when we inform them that we are, they are almost squealing down the phone with excitement. One lady who came in on the first day was so happy she was doing pirouettes in front of us, so funny. One other nice thing is that during the lockdown we picked up quite a few new customers, and they had no idea what the shop looked like inside, so they have enjoyed coming in to have a good look around. So, to sum reopening up, we are still very busy, it’s lovely to be able to chat to people again and everyone is really happy. Whatever your situation, I wish you all the best over the next few weeks, and hopefully by then we will have something different to talk about for a change.