We hope you are all enjoying the results of your gardening efforts and rather than suggest more jobs you could be doing in our garden, we thought you would like to hear how our Trading Centre has managed over lockdown and to make sure you know about this excellent resource within the Society.
The Trading Centre is the sales section of the Hayling Island Horticultural Society, providing gardening products and materials for members. We are a non-profit sub section of the HIHS and as such our prices are very competitive. It is located at the back of the car park behind the British Legion. Like many businesses the Covid-19 pandemic had an enormous impact on the way we operated and our trade.
In the first lock-down of spring 2020 we were forced to close for a period. During this time we reorganised ourselves into two teams each of two people and bought the necessary PPE ready for opening. When we could open, the two teams kept the Trading Centre running on Sundays only. The number of people allowed into the shop area was restricted to one person at a time and the use of masks and hand sanitiser was required. Our Thursday duties for re-stocking and general management also ran with a limited team of two people. Once we were open, trade was very brisk. Lots of people had found solace in their gardens during lock-down and there was a great demand for composts and seeds particularly. Fortunately we have a very good relationship with our main suppliers and we were able to maintain healthy stock levels to satisfy the demand.
After the first lock-down our normal staff rota was reintroduced and things were back to “normal” with our sales remaining at a high level. It was noticeable that quite a few new members joined the HIHS at the Trading Centre just to be able to buy our products.
When the second lock-down started to take effect the Trading Centre was closed for the winter period. Although the shop was closed until the end of January there was a lot of maintenance work taking place mainly in the shop area. All the shelves were completely stripped and cleaned and at the same time the walls and other items were painted. A new display cabinet, funded in memory of a late member, was constructed. The work was undertaken either by individuals or a maximum of two people and was all completed by the opening at the beginning of February.
We have all become used to the use of masks and social distancing and that is how we have continued trading. The supply of stock has been a problem at times. Companies have had to adopt social distancing and that has impacted on their productivity leading to shortages. There has also been a problem sourcing items from China, suddenly you realise how we have become reliant on manufacturing from outside sources. These issues have led to shortages in compost, tools, plastic items such as watering cans and products in spray bottles.
However, throughout all of these problems, with the help of our excellent staff, we have managed to increase our sales from previous years through the increased demand by our customers. The volunteers themselves enjoy the opportunity to be part of this venture and there is the opportunity to meet and chat with fellow helpers and visitors to the shop and learn more about gardening. If anyone is interested in getting involved, just pop in and have a chat.