Sam Bagge | www.walsingham.co
Sam Bagge, general manager of Walsingham Farms Shop, on how to continue to trade in a pandemic.
What a year 2020 was! Our hopes of better times in the New Year were quickly dashed as a new lockdown was announced, with many of us believing it will last until March.
We know that the growing pressure on our great NHS is real as we have had the honour of supporting the University Hospital in Norwich with our pop-up farm shop. We have been providing fresh produce, hot ready meals and more for all the staff throughout the pandemic and it has been amazing to see them at work. Let’s hope that the good people of Norfolk never forget what the NHS gives us every day of our lives: security, life saving treatments, world class care, protection from such deadly diseases and so much more.
I also hope that people remember to support their small local businesses as I believe it is the only way the county’s economy, and indeed the country’s economy, will bounce back. Norfolk, wherever you are located within its boundaries, is very dependent on visitors and tourism. We were aware of this before the pandemic but the second and now third lockdowns have really highlighted how vital visitors are to both our operations in Norwich city centre on Norwich market, and in Little Walsingham in North Norfolk.
We have been delighted to continue to operate throughout the pandemic, but the reality of now being in traditionally the toughest month for businesses like ours alongside the fact no one can visit the region on holiday or to second homes makes life very challenging.
With difficult situations come difficult decisions, but, as a business, our sole priority has always been to protect our staff from the dangers of the virus and to protect the customers that visit us (regardless of their own beliefs when it comes to the virus). We will do everything in our power to remain open and available to the community we serve. We make no secret about how strict we are about implementing our social distancing measures. As we say: ‘If you can’t walk one way around our shop, you’re walking in the wrong shop!’ We aren’t a supermarket, we don’t have the luxury of wide aisles, open areas, and massive amounts of airflow. What we put in place is purely there to protect everyone.
Looking ahead, there are reasons to believe in a better tomorrow and the summer sunshine will hopefully bring a relaxation of such strict measures. I am looking forward to mingling with friends and favourite suppliers at food shows and events.
Life will resume some normality but hopefully with a huge sense of pride in the NHS and a renewed love for local food shops and food producers.
As a customer said to me yesterday: ’We are in it for the long haul and we’re in it together!’