G-inspiration for reopening
Here are seven things we‘ve learned after reopening our gin shop for the first time in three months for the 4 July weekend.
- Cash is very much on its way out. 99% of our transactions are now by contactless. The odd customer who wanted to use cash apologised profusely - and said they wanted to get rid of their notes!
- The vast majority of people are lovely, patient and happy to follow the instructions. We reckon about 10% of people don’t read the clear written instructions (‘This way round the shop’; ‘Please don’t touch the bottles’, etc - but they’re invariably happy to change course once we point out the new rules for the shop.
- Perspex is now king. Our staff feel perfectly safe standing behind a Perspex screen while they’re serving. In fact, we’ve used the crisis to develop a new socially-distanced way of serving gin tasters based on an 18th century gin vending machine called a Puss ‘n’ Mew. So there are opportunities to innovate - with customers enjoying the tasting experience even more than before.
- Although the streets feel busy, fewer people are actually entering the shops. The first full weekend after lockdown brought out lots of people having a nosy to see what was going on but who didn’t want to make the extra step to actually start shopping.
- We had a number of customers from other areas who were keen to get out and do some sightseeing. A couple were staying over in York - the first glimmers of the tourist trade recovering. We do think this summer’s recovery will be based on our fellow countrymen and women having staycations and holidaying in the U.K.
- Making a rota is even more interesting than normal - we are trying to keep them safe by putting them on the same shift if they’re in a social bubble outside work. Parents and adult children; friends from outside work is the way we’re trying to manage this.
- Mask wearing is very patchy but use of hand sanitiser is almost universal. It seems that unless the government makes mass-wearing mandatory in shops many people won’t use them. If you’re making sanitiser, keep going!
Finally, if the second spike doesn’t materialise, we think we will have a very busy August. Once the school summer hols officially begin and people are more confident about getting out and about we hope they will start visiting our wonderful towns and cities. Shopping will invariably be a slower process but we’re confident most people are happy to wait a bit longer for the sake of their and everyone else’s safety. And of course we’d love to see you visit York and Yorkshire. Our ancient city is a perfect place to visit for a few days - and we are surrounded by the most incredible countryside and have a beautiful coastline only an hour away.
Emma Godivala is co-founder of the York Gin Company, established in 2018.