Every month we celebrate the ingenuity of independent merchants in our Bright Ideas column, sponsored by WBC.
get on your (cargo) bike
Forest Wines, Walthamstow
In a nutshell …
Reduce your carbon footprint by making deliveries by cargo bike, but you might want to make sure you get one with an electric motor.
How long have you been employing pedal power for deliveries?
“We started bike deliveries in the borough in 2014 shortly after the business opened and long before it became trendy, so we have been on the road for the last six years using a range of trailers and bikes.
“We are keen to keep things aligned with the green ethos of our business, and when our online orders and local demand increased during lockdown, a large capacity bike, with a help of an electric engine, fitted the bill perfectly.”
What sort of capacity does the electric battery have?
“We generally do deliveries in east London so in terms of battery life I don’t think I could take it down to Brighton. But we comfortably do 60 to 70 drops on the busiest day on a single charge, so it’s quite a powerful machine. We currently operate a free next-day delivery service in E17 and E10 postcodes, seven days a week, and we travel farther out on weekly deliveries in east London.”
Has it been easier having to cope with less traffic during lockdown?
“The local authority encourages cycling. We were one of the first test areas for making cities greener and communities healthier, so the local residential streets are closed off for traffic. For us it’s much easier to navigate by bike than to use a vehicle.”
It’s all very well in the sunshine, but will you power through the wet and cold?
“Absolutely! We have a rain cover, so the cardboard boxes and the goods don’t get wet. You wear a raincoat and you can get dry at the end of the day. There are days when you don’t want to be cycling to Hampstead Heath, but the local deliveries will be always be done on the bike.”
We’re in awe of you. What’s the reaction been from your customers?
“People are very happy when you turn up with wine anyway, but when we deliver a bit farther afield people are quite shocked we get to them on a bike. It’s a good promotional vehicle for us because we definitely stand out from the crowd. Our local customers have named the bike the Forest Flyer.”
Start an Art Club
Duncan Sime and Ola Dabrowska
In a nutshell …
This art club originally started as an on-premise activity and has become a way to stay engaged with customers during lockdown.
Tell us more.
“It was mainly Ola’s idea as she has studied art,” says Duncan. “She got together some spare art supplies that we had around the house and encouraged people to come and join her in the shop every Wednesday and enjoy a glass of wine while painting and creating.”
How have you made this work during lockdown?
“There are a few social media groups knocking about based on recreating famous artworks at home. So we adapted that idea and asked customers to recreate their favourite album covers. Our contribution was an interpretation of a Beastie Boys album cover. That’s me, Ola and our eight-year-old in the back garden – we’re quite proud of that one! It’s been a great thing to do on social media, especially Instagram. But it’s quite a commitment to do it every week, so we’ve just decided to do it once a month and make it a bit more interactive by involving prizes.”
Ooh, prizes. What’s up for grabs?
“We’re working with Dabbawalla, a local business that makes amazing curry and Thalis. First prize will be a meal for two made and delivered by Dabbawalla, plus a bottle of wine from Kwas. Second prize will be a £20 voucher to spend in our web shop. It’s about helping each other out at the moment and if we can have a bit of fun with the art side of things, and we can help another business in the process and customers can get to win something, that’s ideal. I’d rather pay for a bit of investment into a prize than pay for a Facebook promotion.”
What are you asking customers to do to be in with a chance of winning?
“We’re asking them to design their ideal wine label, using any medium they like. There will be extra points for inventive wine names too – we’re looking for good puns. They have seven days to get creating and send their entries in via our social media channels. Hopefully people will rise to the challenge and engage with us.”
Here’s the one we published in April 2020.
Here’s the one from March 2020.