Community champions

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, The Wine Merchant teamed up with Pol Roger Portfolio to launch Community Champions. It’s a new regular section which acknowledges the fantastic work that so many independents do to support their communities and a range of good causes.

If your store is a community champion, email claire@winemerchantmag.com

June 2020

Lucy Chenoweth
The Old Garage Bottle Shop & Deli, Truro

Lucy Chenoweth opened her wine shop last September with the intention that it would become a community stalwart with plenty of tastings and events.

Fast-forward to the time of Covid and she’s reaching out to her community in a different way. Her impeccably designed premises are now arguably the most stylish of packaging hubs in the history of distribution and and Lucy is out and about delivering vegetable boxes, hampers and checking in with elderly customers.

“I took on the veg because we’re in real retirement area and a lot of older customers were saying they couldn’t get delivery slots from the supermarket so I just thought I’d look after them,” Lucy explains.

“Then I got an influx of people just wanting veg boxes so I took it on the chin as I thought I would find a way to get them to buy wine from me another time. About 90% of them who bought again then started to add wine and other deli items to their order. Not in massive quantities or anything, but every sale counts at the moment. My beautiful shop just looks like a greengrocer’s; the veg deliveries come in every day at 6am and there’s wine boxed up all over the floor.”

Lucy admits that The Old Garage wasn’t set up for e-commerce. But within a week of lockdown she added a new delivery tab to her website where customers could find a list of 180 wines along with all the cheeses and meats. She’s now making around 40 deliveries a week to regular customers as well as fulfilling nationwide orders.

“It’s trying to keep that really personal service while managing to say yes to as many things as possible. I’ve settled into it now and it doesn’t bother me getting up so early and getting home so late – people do seem to be so thankful and I do think we will keep a large majority of them as customers.”

Collaborating closely with Lucy is fellow merchant Jamie Tonkin from Old Chapel Cellars. “Jamie is a legend,” she says. “We’ve been delivering for each other and helping each other out. We’ve met in random lay-bys and field gateways when I’ve bought wine from him and he’s taken my deliveries for me.”

It appears Lucy has inadvertently created a mutual support group. “I’ve got about five local ladies, some of whom are literally stuck indoors, that I speak to every week just to check in and they are always really keen to chat, but now some of them now are texting me to check that I’ve actually had a day off,” she says.

Lucy wins a bottle of Pol Roger Brut 2012

Here’s our first winner, from May 2020.