Yesterday, we introduced you to a local photographer, Jo Denison. Jo, who works as a food and lifestyle photographer, is based at Skipton’s historic Corn Mill. Over the past few weeks, Jo has been meeting and photographing some of Skipton’s independent food suppliers, to discover and document how they have altered their services during lockdown.
It’s been a challenging time for most but the way some of our local businesses have adapted is admirable to say the least.
In part 1, we brought you just four of Jo’s lockdown stories. Here, we bring you another six…
Luc’s Woodfired Micro Bakery
Luc Daguzan has worked in restaurants all his life. After running his own restaurant in Skipton for ten years he wanted a quieter, less stressful lifestyle. It was only in February this year that Luc set up his specialist wood-fired bread oven, imported from France, the only one of its kind in the UK.
For now, he sells to family and friends and supplies Dominic (DC Fruit and Veg) on the high street market. He is enjoying the slower pace of life lockdown has brought. It will give his business the opportunity to build organically and to perfect his bread. For Luc, baking bread is a spiritual process, involving earth (grain and yeast), fire and water. It’s hard work keeping the oven at the right temperature when it goes a bit wrong, he is known to start speaking French.
“It’s worth the effort because beautiful bread makes people happy”, he says.
Drake and Macefield
Adam Proctor and Alex Woolmore have worked for Drake and Macefield for 16 years and 10 years.
They have been much busier in lockdown with lots of new and younger customers. On the first weekend with all the panic buying happening they sold one month’s worth of beef in two days.
They started offering a home delivery service for their older customers so they wouldn’t have to go out. Surprisingly, while their regulars wouldn’t stay away, it’s been the younger generation that has embraced the on-line shop, but for different reasons. When the panic buying first drove the new, younger customers into the shop, it was a new way of shopping for them. They were used to buying their meat pre-packaged in the supermarkets and seemed to be uncomfortable not quite knowing what to order or how much.
The online service has lowered that hurdle and Adam and Alex are hopeful that many of their new customers will stay with them in the future past lockdown.
George Wilson Fresh Fish
George and son-in law Nikky sell fish from their van on the high street. They are a cheerful duo greeting everyone by name. George has been selling fish for 44 years, he started with his mum aged 16. Nikky joined 6 years ago moving up from London.
George and Nikky are much busier on the retail side, but quiet, naturally, on wholesale. At first, they didn’t know if they would be able to continue trading during lockdown. When all the restaurants closed and fish stock wasn’t being sold, the fishing boats stopped going out. It was very difficult to get hold of any fish in the first few weeks.
After 2 weeks, instead of a complete halt, the fishing industry kept a few boats going out, enabling traders like George and Nicky to keep going. They have never missed a day on the market and were determined to keep trading. “We’re lucky”, says Nikky “to have such loyal customers”
The Mess Room
Steve and Julia McAnamara set up the small community bar, The Mess Room, in Summer 2019, out of “a shared love of craft ale, quality drinks and live music”.
Steve and Julia realised that not only pubs were going to be hit directly by the closures but also the breweries, particularly the small and microbreweries that have evolved alongside the recent craft ale boom.
They contacted local brewers and arranged the 10ltr “real ale bag in a box”, available to pre-order for pickup every Friday. It took off after the first week and has helped keep some of the local microbreweries in business. They are also now selling bottles and cocktails.
Bruce and Rebecca Elsworth of Elsworth Kitchen run a restaurant where they champion local and seasonal food. To be able to react to what produce is freshly available, their set-menu changes every week.
When lockdown closed restaurants, they started running a home delivery service, supplying their usual full multi-course menu to their customers at home every Friday evening. They enlisted the help of friends and family as delivery drivers. It was an instant success. The word spread and families began to meet their friends on Zoom for their Elsworth Kitchen meals, sharing the experience.
Rearranging their business model has been difficult, many a late night was filled with printing bags and sticking stickers on lids. But it has been worth the effort, Bruce and Rebecca are getting a lot of positive feedback from their regular customers, who look forward to their Elsworth meal each week. They say they feel very lucky to be so well supported by the local community.
Lee Thompson and Pete Hudson have been working long hours through lockdown at Sutcliffes Butchers.
While Sutcliffe’s have lost business with pubs and restaurants, they have now introduced a home delivery service and supply to care homes and sheltered housing. In the shop, they have been busier than normal with new customers having found their way to the high street as a result of supermarket shortages in the early stages of lockdown. Many new clients seem to be enjoying the quality of the produce and the shopping experience at a traditional butcher, asking advice on what to order and how to cook the meat, as they are buying different cuts than they would normally do at a supermarket.
Lee and Pete hope their new customers will continue to shop on the high street after lockdown, but recognise that parking can be a problem and, once everyone is back to working long days, the supermarkets may be more convenient for many.
We’ll be sharing more wonderful stories and images from Jo’s lockdown project later this week. To avoid missing it, make sure you’re following us on Facebook. You can see more of Jo’s work by heading over to her website, following on her on Instagram or liking her Facebook page.
If you would like to share some of the things your business has been doing during lockdown, please email [email protected]