We’ve just had the best two weeks of business outside of Christmas, for all the wrong reasons. Our shelves look like something out of Russia in the 1970s – apart from the super premium reds and whites, of course. Stockpiling always covers the essentials, never the treats.
Gav’s gone into self-isolation because his girlfriend has terrible asthma and I’m exhausted from making up everything as I go along. And from him asking what the plan is for the future. How the hell do I know? I don’t even know if I’ll still be in business in a few months’ time. Or indeed if some of my suppliers will still be going.
We stopped the drink-in offering before the government announcement, as Gav got uncomfortable at how crowded it was suddenly getting. We went from a handful of occupied tables due to Dry January, and then Lent, to the last chance saloon. Lucrative though it was, I just couldn’t manage it on my own. Though I am telling a better, more responsible-sounding story to my virtue-signalling, #stayathome hashtag-loving friends. Something about staff and customer safety …
As I write this, we are now doing delivery only. Again, I am sounding responsible in how I tell it, but I needed a bloody big nudge to get here: several customers calling up saying they wanted to support me but didn’t want to shop in crowded spaces, where all sorts of people were handling the bottles. I tried to restrict the number of customers coming in at any one time, and then tried to keep them from touching the wares. But for all those voicing concerns, there were plenty of others who just acted like social distancing and hygiene didn’t apply to them. Then Mr M started nagging me about taking precautions, not something he has said in a long, long time.
So now I am taking bespoke orders by phone and email and have hastily slapped together a version of my long-planned-but-never-quite-happened online shop, including some mixed cases. Needless to say, unlike loo roll, people are not repeat stockpiling wine. But the orders are steady. We deliver in time for the weekend and – unlike Deliveroo or Uber Eats – we get to keep all our margin. I am, in fact, rather moved by how many people have come out of the woodwork in support of their local independent wine merchant. And how many people are understanding when you don’t have their favourite wine in stock because you are limiting how much you buy. If only running an independent wine shop could always be like this. Without, of course, the deadly virus.
March 22, 2020