We've created a new website to enable North Yorkshire businesses and tradespeople who can work under Covid-19 restrictions to share what they offer with customers who need their services.
During the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses have been forced to adapt their ways of working and find new avenues to trade.
Janet and Roger Nutting owners of Out of the Box! in Richmond signed up to Buy Local, our free online marketplace which now has nearly 600 businesses registered.
Over the past few weeks, the self-serve eco-friendly food shop started to send stock lists to customers, take orders and offer a collection service. The shop has now reopened with extra safety precautions.
“When we have sent out our full list of stock to customers, they’ve been surprised at the range of items we sell – we’ve also started providing different items on request,” said Janet. “We have definitely had new customers so we hope this means more people are shopping local – we want to make sure we are offering what the community needs.”
“We are only allowing one person in the shop at a time, providing hand sanitiser and dispensing items for our customers. I think people feel safe and comfortable in the shop and now the panic is over, we really want people to start thinking about the eco side of things again.”
Loyal Out of the Box! shopper Angela is pleased that they have found new customers “It can be difficult setting up a new business and I feel it is important to support them or we could lose them. I hope those customers who have discovered this great little store during lockdown will continue to support them afterwards.”
Liz, who also shops at Out of the box! said, “I wanted to make sure I supported, as much as possible, local businesses during Covid to make sure they survive this and help them continue in the future as they provide a valuable service in our community. The fact that Janet, Roger and Jo have adapted their business to drop off and collect is amazing.”
In this testing time for independent businesses, Buy Local is here to encourage people to continue to shop local after restrictions are eased.
Picture shows: Angela with some of her Out of the box! purchases.
Despite the coronavirus outbreak, farms need running, cows need milking and most importantly, produce needs selling.
In a bid to reach a wider audience, the Home Farmer in Wensleydale is one of over 500 businesses signed up to Buy Local, the free online marketplace created by North Yorkshire County Council for businesses able to trade under Covid-19 restrictions.
The dairy farm is run by brothers Ben and Adam Spence, along with Ben's wife Sam. With a herd of 100 cows, they sell fresh milk in reusable glass bottles from a travelling milk vending machine, as well as Old Roan Wensleydale cheese, made in small batches by hand on the farm.
"Many people are changing how they shop, so one simple website connecting people to small independent shops and services is a great idea,” said Sam. “We found it was really easy to sign up and the website was clear and easy to use. We wanted to reassure customers that we are open as usual and have extra safety measures in place, so the Buy Local website was a great place to get that message out.”
The business is running as normal. The milk machine trailer is moving around Wensleydale on its usual timetable, and cheese is available at the trailer or on their website.
They are providing hand sanitiser and ask people to follow social distancing when using the machine. The dispenser steam cleans after every fill.
“Milk sales have increased as more people shop local, but cheese sales are down. We were mostly selling to restaurants and small delis in tourist areas which are either closed or have lost a lot of their footfall.
“We have found some new outlets for the cheese so we have managed to replace some of our lost sales and are now only slightly behind where we were. Our cheese is matured for three to four months, so the cheese we are selling now was all made back in December and January, before we had any idea of what was to come.”
Seven weeks have passed since professional photographer Charlotte Gale conducted her last photo shoot and was forced to turn her full attention to her other business venture, Pictur-esque Greeting Cards.
Based in Knaresborough, Charlotte is one of almost 500 businesses to register on North Yorkshire Buy Local, our free online marketplace for those able to trade under Covid-19 restrictions.
“I stock my Greeting Cards in a number of local shops, but when these closed I had to re-evaluate my business and look for other opportunities,” said Charlotte. “I was one of the first to sign up to Buy Local with the aim of pushing my online sales and adapting to the current situation.
“It’s a great place for people to go and find those businesses that are still operating. Hopefully it will encourage customers to shop with me even when lockdown is over.”
Her cards all display a strong Yorkshire theme. By signing up to a county-wide website, she hopes to have access to new audiences.
Dee, a customer from Skipton, said: “I was wondering how on earth I would manage to find cards during lockdown, when I found Pictur-esque on Buy Local. Charlotte’s cards are blank, so suitable for so many occasions, and I am so glad I was able to find her service, thanks to the website. I will definitely use both Pictur-esque and Buy Local again!”
Charlotte added: “It’s easy for anybody to contact me by email or over the phone. I’m providing cards for those who are unable to leave the house, some can include handwritten calligraphy or a printed picture inside.
“For corporate photography it could be next year before I have any level of business like before lockdown. I’m feeling more positive now than I was a few weeks ago. Looking for ways to develop my business online is the way forward.”
In the three weeks since its launch, almost 400 businesses have registered with North Yorkshire Buy Local, our free online marketplace for those able to trade under Covid-19 restrictions.
Among the businesses is Yorkshire Dales Meat, catering butchers who have changed the way they work to meet demand during the pandemic.
“We are now doing door-step deliveries, which we have never done before, so that’s very different to what we were doing,” said managing director James Knox. “We are getting repeat orders, which I think says it all really, doesn’t it?”
But business isn’t easy in the current circumstances, so the company has been using its social media channels and advertising, as well as signing up for Buy Local, which James says is definitely worth doing, “without any doubts”.
“It is very tough,” he said. “We are not back to where we want to be, regarding sales, but we’re managing to keep the current employees in business. All the time we all looking at new avenues for how we can sell our product until the lockdown ends, but is pretty tough, it’s hard work. We have to be proactive and look for business.”
When Rachel Fell’s shower broke as she and her family followed the Covid-19 guidance to stay at home, she needed help.
Luckily, a search of North Yorkshire Buy Local, the free online marketplace created by North Yorkshire County Council for businesses able to trade under Covid-19 restrictions, bore fruit.
“Our electric shower was broken, and when you’re socially isolating as a family, that is not a good situation!” said Rachel. “I saw the Buy Local site advertised on the Covid Co-operation Facebook group, so I searched for electricians in my area.”
She found BSA Electrical, run by Luke Boston, who had registered on Buy Local only the day before.
“Buy Local is a great way for local businesses to offer their services during the ongoing circumstances,” said Luke. “The site is easy to use and very user-friendly. We advertised our electrical services on Tuesday night and had an enquiry on Wednesday morning. Within 24 hours of the enquiry coming in, we were able to attend site, replace a faulty electric shower for new, and provide a functional washing facility for the family to use – as they’d been without for a few days!”
Rachel added: “I was so lucky that Luke was able to come out the next day, and he reassured me that he is working within Covid-19 guidelines. Using Buy Local meant I could find Luke quickly and easily, and I would definitely use the site again. We’re very grateful to Luke for helping us out at this difficult time.”
Buy Local aims to bring together North Yorkshire businesses and tradespeople who can work under Covid-19 restrictions with the customers who need their services.
Luke said: “It’s definitely worthwhile signing up, and gives the general public who are in need of services fairly promptly, a selection of local businesses and services to choose from. We’re glad we signed up, and feel that the service is something people need at the minute – for both the customers and businesses. We’re always happy to help people out, but now so more than ever, so having this platform has made it a lot easier for both parties to engage with each other, whilst being sensible and sticking to the social distancing rules even within households.”
The public can search for services on Buy Local and businesses can join the more than 250 already on the site.
Sam Spence, who runs Crafts of Thirsk, is one of about 200 businesspeople to register on our Buy Local free online marketplace in its first week – and she saw an immediate benefit.
“I registered in the morning after seeing it on social media and got a new order before 2pm that afternoon off the back of it,” said Sam, who founded the Thirsk Yarnbombers and took over the 40-year-old business a year ago. “It took me only a minute to register and I’ve shared it with loads of other people, so you’ve probably been inundated!”
We launched Buy Local to enable North Yorkshire businesses and tradespeople who can work under Covid-19 restrictions to share what they offer with customers who need their services.
Sam closed her shop when Covid-19 restrictions were introduced, but began to get requests from customers.
“People started messaging to ask whether I could post or deliver craft materials,” she said. “I spoke to people about it and realised how important it is for mental health and keeping occupied.”
Sam is in the shop three days a week to pack orders, which she then posts or delivers.
“I arrange a delivery time, leave the package and ring the bell,” she said. “A lot of customers are on their own, and a lot have taken up crafting during the outbreak and are asking for advice. People are so pleased with what they get they are now re-ordering.”
Sam recommends Buy Local.
“It’s a one-stop shop. I could see what people in other towns were doing. So there are companies in Scarborough, for instance, and I thought: ‘If I’ve got a birthday coming up I might use them’. So it’s not just local to Thirsk, it’s North Yorkshire as a whole. And I am a bit like a stick of rock with Yorkshire running through me, so you had me at that point!”
Since its launch a week ago, almost 200 businesses have registered on Buy Local, with more joining all the time, and about 3,000 people have visited the site. Businesses on the site already range from farm shops that will deliver produce to joinery to computer repairs and many others.