I sometimes forget what a whirlwind experience the last few months have been and how as a family we have been threading water, going with the flow and fighting what came our way. It has been an incredible life enhancing experience over the last few months and looking back I do not think there are many things that are the same as 4 months ago.
A new home, a new business, new routine, new garden, new skills.
What has not changed is the determination to stay an independent shop focused on local food, for local people as well as tackling the environmental issues about waste, rubbish collections and legislation surrounding it all. The house feels a bit more comfortable but having bought a house and garden that have been neglected for a few years also stretches the imagination sometimes when I envisage a warm, cosy home without too many material things in it as well as improving it taking into account its age, character and sustainable building materials.
I am a firm believer in plan, do review ( project management background) so every 3 months I look back on what went well and what could be improved and where we go from here.
What went well:
happy with business choice and enjoying talking to the customers.
We have increased stock levels and maintained a regular supply of daily items.
Choice of fruit and vegetables is more local and seasonal.
Introduced regular meat and bread supply from local source.
Changed egg producer to within 15 miles.
What was difficult?
Getting to grips with a staggering 100 suppliers, creating relationships and setting up an accounts system that works.
Problems with the building: electricity cuts, water leaks, damp patches and cold temperatures.
Changing from a 5 day week to a 7 day relentless week working from home.
What could be improved ?
Choice and supply of products - introduce fair trade as well as locally sourced products.
Planning to deal with waste of food that goes out of date. Much of it gets eaten by the family but more creative use needs to me made of leftovers. ( wish I had a pig!)
Electricity supply is very very high - need to look at what is in the freezers and plan supply better. I guess that will come in time when we know our customer base better.
Precycling and cutting out the plastic bags in the shop. We reuse plastic bags supplied by customers and use only paper bags for produce.
a competition for canvas shopping bags with a slogan for the shop and village
a website to increase awareness and supply online shopping of local items.
Changes to the preparation room and customer toilets.
Freezer audit: goods as well as electricity use.
Observation of what tourist trade means and how it differs from local customers.
Build in more free time to relax and work in the garden at fresh food supply.
Maintain health, exercise and personal relationships. A business can be all consuming.