Some garden centres have already taken massive steps to reopen safely. Many in the garden industry, and in retail at large, will be keenly watching and evaluating what works and how customers respond. No doubt over the coming weeks there will be refinements and many improvements as it becomes clear things will stay ‘different’ for a long time.
Making customers and staff feel secure and relaxed once again will take time. Some of the emergency measures may disappear as all that sticky tape on the floor gets grubby and peels. Other changes will become entrenched in our new culture and retailers will want to make some temporary solutions prettier, friendlier and more professional.
Innovation is everywhere
Like many, Green Magic Co (Sign-Holders.co.uk) has been beavering away during lockdown to discover, devise and deliver new solutions. Our core signage products are suddenly in great demand. Our specialist wire suspension systems have been flying out as businesses appreciate that protection screens and guidance signs can be hung from roof-spaces to position them in clear line of sight. Additionally we have developed several new virus protection products, with the first production quantities arriving very soon. Be warned, demand is high.
Here is a quick preview
At many counters and checkouts, hanging sneeze guards offer a low-cost alternative to rigid acrylic guards fixed to the counter. When scanning plants and bulky items a narrow aperture is not practical. A suspended sneeze guard can be set at a sensible height to allow adequate access. Our suspended protection screens are made of tough crystal-clear PET with aluminium top and bottom rails. These are much lighter than rigid acrylic (such as Perspex) – though we also supply an extensive range of adjustable hanging wire systems to suit the acrylic type.
Protecting staff and customers from airborne transmission requires different solutions away from the checkout. When staff need to assist customers a face shield visor is a useful option. The visors we supply do not look overly obtrusive. They are comfortable to wear with through ventilation combined with an adjustable elasticated head strap. They can be worn with glasses.
To supplement two metre social distancing, there are occasions when freestanding clear screens are valuable for protecting people via a physical divider – in and out of the loos for example. We will soon launch the modular floor screen system pictured above. We aim for a good looking yet affordable solution, to supplement the similar screwed-down designs we already offer for reception desks and information counters.
Hand sanitising is going to be with us long term. For an investment less than the wage of a member of staff for a day, you can have a smart hand sanitiser station with integral poster frame in which to display your own branded message.
Our new hand sanitiser stands feature a 1 litre capacity lever dispenser, which can be operated by elbow, with an optional accessory for dispensing gloves or wipes if required. From June we will be supplying our own brand of 60% alcohol hand sanitiser gel (in 5 litre bulk bottles). Contactless dispensers are coming, but the reliability of lever action dispensers is already well established. We anticipate customers will soon expect to see professional hand sanitiser stations everywhere.
Returning to our core products, many garden centres are using the signage systems they have previously purchased from Green Magic to great effect. A few examples are pictured, sporting the HTA themed posters which we recommend garden centres use or adapt.
Here too we have been busy innovating – for example we have a simple new fitting which slips onto our existing models of FreeStander floor signs to attach any kind of chain, to direct foot traffic or restrict access. For a recap of existing lines, whose potential you might have overlooked, please click our weblink below.
Finally some words of advice
- Demand for protection equipment is very high from every sector: advance planning and pre-ordering is highly recommended.
- Avoid being panicked into paying crazy prices for the wrong solutions.
- Do not endanger your staff and customers by feeling pressurised to reopen before you are ready. React quickly if things are going wrong.
- Learn what works and be prepared to refine and improve, so that your garden centre looks less like a hazardous assault course and returns to being relaxed, safe and accessible.
- Stay safe and Be alert (Oh no! I’ve only gone and said it).
All Green Magic products are available to order (or pre-order as applicable) online at www.sign-holders.co.uk/virus-protection.html
Article written by Nigel Spelman, founder and chairman of Green Magic Co.