As garden centres shut their coffee shops and restaurants on Friday evening, some were arranging deliveries of fresh veg and other supplies and on Saturday morning Pop Up Veg shops were up and running.
At Aylett Nurseries in St Albans the supplies came from their regular coffee shop veg wholesaler and the whole team got involved in the set up with customers hearing about it on facebook and arriving as early as 8:30 ready to shop. Staff were given the chance to shop from the supplies before the centre opened. Customers were really pleased to see the Dahlia coffee shop converted into a Farm Shop so quickly. Adam Wigglesworth said he hoped to be able to add other produce into the space over the coming days. "this has been more motivating to us all than Christmas!"
Adam said he got the idea from Terry Head at Stewarts where they also set up a Pop Up Veg shop overnight. "The staff have been so grateful that they can come to work, get all the fresh essentials and not having to worry about battling the supermarkets. The customers are amazed that we have manged to open a fresh produce shop in 24 hours which to some has taken a huge amount of stress off they in these horrid times."
Baytree near Spalding has used supplies from it's other centre, Baytree at Hilgay where they have an established Farm Shop, to create a Pop Up farm shop in Bulbland.
Take away hot food and drinks were also the order of the day at many centres. At Blue Diamond Redfields they were offering an extensive take away menu along with cakes and they were contacting all customers who had booked for Mothers Day to see if they would like a takeway service instead.
Garden centres are also busy setting up new on-line ordering services. At Ruxley Manor they say on their facebook page: "Our new trial online ordering system is now live! Until Sunday 22nd at 9pm you can order Outdoor Furniture and BBQs with FREE local delivery. https://ruxley-direct.co.uk/ After this time we will review the system and add more products so during this period of uncertainty there can still be plenty of planting and gardening to do!
This system has been built very quickly, so there may be a few bugs - we will do our very best to ensure your orders are delivered to you quickly and efficiently and appreciate your understanding during our trial period."
At Britsh Garden Centres Roxton they are providing a hand wash position at the front door. Well done!
How are you rising to the challenge of the Coronavirus Emergency? How are you managing customers to avoid crowding? We hear that most shoppers are making very targetted visits to centres, coming in to buy specific products, paying and going. With news this morning about National Trust gardens closing we need to be careful garden centres don't get targetted for closure because we have too many people visiting.
Here's a comment from Robert Mason at Sturmer Nurseries sent yesterday:
"Today on a sunny day, albeit with a piercing cold wind, we were busier than our best ever May bank holiday (even with our tearoom closed!)
"Customers were mainly after seeds, young edible plants, compost and growing media.
"People were determined to stock up ahead of social inclusion in their own gardens.
"Pensioners were out in force during the week, but today was mainly younger people.
"People were happy to be out in the fresh air - let's hope the garden centres are able to stay open. It's quite clear they are vital to everyone's morale and wellbeing."
See more pictures of the Pop Up Veg shops below
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