Buy Local is the North Yorkshire market place linking businesses with customers to help people shop locally.
Back in April we spoke to James Knox of Yorkshire Dales Meat based in Patrick Brompton, a catering butcher who turned his hand to serving the community. Having lost most of this revenue when restaurants and hotels closed, James had to focus on protecting jobs and securing the future of the business. He adapted initially to offer doorstep deliveries and a click and collect service to the public for the first time. Buy Local helped him to reach a whole new audience.
‘Everyone is impacted in some way shape or form – everyone is in a similar boat, having to think on their feet, be agile and try to survive’ said James. ‘We may get around 50% or, conservatively, 25% of our restaurant business back, but it’s a guessing game.’
He continues to proactively look for new business and has now opened Mill Close Farm Shop, whilst carrying on with deliveries to the public.
‘There have been a lot of people who are very grateful for their deliveries, and quite a few that were a bit concerned that we would be stopping the service, but there’s no plans to do that - we plan to continue even as things get back nearer to normal.’
When we first spoke to Yorkshire Dales Meat:
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.”
Pictur-esque Greeting cards is the brainchild of Charlotte Gale, a professional photographer from Knaresborough.
When we first spoke to Charlotte a few weeks ago, she had been forced to turn her full attention to her greeting cards business following her work as professional photographer drying up during the pandemic. Charlotte said ‘I had two sides to my photography business – marketing photography for businesses, and I also specialise in corporate photography, food, interiors and event photography – so, as you can imagine, there has been a real need to re-assess and re-evaluate and look at other opportunities.’
She was also selling her greeting cards, many of which have a strong Yorkshire focus, in a number of retail outlets, which were obviously closed during lockdown.
Just like so many other businesses during lockdown, Charlotte had to adapt. So she put her energy into her online offering - ‘I was looking at ways to increase the visibility of my online shop and the Buy Local site seemed like the perfect fit, as it covers the whole of the North Yorkshire region.’
During lockdown, Buy local has directed new traffic to Charlotte’s website www.pictur-esque.com and helped her connect with customers in different areas of the county.
Charlotte said, ‘I was actually one of the first people to sign up so I was definitely an early adopter. I have had a number of enquiries from the site and some nice orders via my online shop. I think the buy local directory is a great concept as it supports local business owners like myself and also helps customers to access suppliers’
When we first spoke to Charlotte this is what she told us:
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.”
With more people venturing into Church Fenton Community Shop, a dedicated team of sewing bees have been making facemasks in a bid to help protect customers and volunteers.
The Community Shop is one of over 650 businesses signed up to Buy Local, our free online marketplace.
In order to safely stay open during the pandemic, the volunteer-run shop is encouraging residents to make facemasks, with all profits going to Selby Foodbank.
Management Committee member Stewart Ferris said: “As lockdown begins to ease we are determined to stay open, serving our village whilst keeping volunteers and customers as safe as we can.
“Some wonderful sewers in the village have donated homemade facemasks to the shop. It’s been a great initiative to give villagers who are shielding something to do to help out.
“We are giving away bags containing patterns and materials at the shop. We have already sold around 60 masks so our sewers are calling for more fabric.”
As all non-essential shops were able to reopen on 15 June, many are going the extra mile to increase safety measures.
“We’ve installed screens to protect our volunteers. We are only allowing two people in the shop at one time, as well as no under 16s for as long as we need to. Hand sanitiser is at the door, and we have extended our opening hours to evenings.”
Throughout lockdown, they have seen many villagers doing their weekly shop rather than using it for emergencies. They have been operating a delivery service for those self-isolating or vulnerable.
A delivery service is also provided by the shop for people needing prescriptions from Sherburn doctor’s surgery.
“We have about 50 active volunteers involved in every aspect of the business from ordering stock, serving customers, delivering, shelf-filling and coordinating social media. We saw an influx of new volunteers who were furloughed or working from home.
“We signed up to Buy Local because it was an easy way to have a presence online. We registered to make sure as many people know about us as possible and to serve the local community.”
When long queues and empty shelves were a familiar sight at supermarkets, many village stores across North Yorkshire rose to the challenge of plugging the gap.
Matthew and Andrea, who own The Dale Stores in Birstwith near Harrogate, began adapting the business and signed up to Buy Local, our free online marketplace.
“Being able to help people has been really terrific and has given us a real sense of purpose,” said Matthew. “We had to change our business completely as we mainly relied on our food-to-go business, selling around 100 sandwiches a day. However, as soon as lockdown started we realised we were going to have to remodel the business.”
The village store began putting together orders for collection and delivery in the nearby area. They launched a system whereby customers who are vulnerable or self-isolating are able to place orders either on the telephone or via an Internet order form.
They are busy fulfilling these orders, either on the doorstep, through ‘click n collect’ or deliveries by an army of willing local volunteers.
Matthew added: “It all fell into place very quickly. When people were getting worried about where they were going to get their food from they turned to us as we use local suppliers and some started doing their weekly shop here. We are now not just a shop, we are providing a service and have an extended role in supporting our community.”
The Dales Store itself is a traditional village shop with limited space, so Matthew is making changes to the layout for when they re-open “We have had screens fitted at the till point in readiness and plan to adopt a “two customers at a time” policy. Once we have reorganised the kitchen into an order fulfilment room, we will be able to allow shoppers in properly and safely.
“A lot of our new customers have said they will continue to support us. We know that delivering groceries to the community will be the new normal, and it’s what shops used to do in the 60s and 70s.
“We are currently reliant on volunteers but soon hope to be able to have our furloughed staff back. In the long term we hope to get a van to start a proper delivery service and extend the delivery radius.”
Spring House Farm Shop is helping to meet the needs of customers by sourcing new products on request.
Owners Neil and Judith are also buying extra stock from local suppliers who have lost trade during the lockdown restrictions.
The farm shop, located on the Bedale to Northallerton road (A684), is signed up to Buy Local, our free online marketplace which now has over 600 businesses registered.
Neil said: “When customers started to rely on us we had to adapt to the new circumstances and began offering a collection service whereby people would pay over the phone. We have seen new customers use the shop, some from further afield, and have grown a base of loyal supporters.”
Customer Rebecca Proctor said: “Neil and Judith have bent over backwards to support the local community during lockdown. We have two small children and they have been able to get us fresh, local produce at the drop of a hat, even when our four-year-old decided he wanted fruit which was completely out of season!
“Being able to ring up, place the order and collect it whilst socially distancing a few days later has been brilliant and such a less stressful experience than having to try and get a supermarket online spot or having to travel to a large store.”
When restaurants and cafes had to close, the owners began supporting their suppliers by buying extra stock.
Neil added: “Everything we sell comes from suppliers in a 15-mile radius as we believe it is important to support our local businesses. It was a case of adapting to the new circumstances and helping those who are unable to trade still receive a good income.”
The farm shop began selling take away hot food, including Sunday lunches, and, due to the increase in demand, even stocks cleaning products and hand sanitiser. They went out of their way to source what people were requesting.
“We had to diversify our products to suit the changing market, and have constantly found ways to remodel the business. Things are beginning to get back to normal and people are venturing out. We now have 70% of trade coming from people visiting the shop.”
Stuart’s Foods in Scarborough is promoting its fresh and local trademark to new customers during the coronavirus pandemic by launching a home delivery service.
Damian Howarth, Managing Director, is one of nearly 600 business owners to register on Buy Local, the free online marketplace created by North Yorkshire County Council. “We are still delivering to places such as care homes, hospitals and some staff canteens but we dropped about 85 per cent of normal turnover within 48 hours,” said Damian. “We had to adapt, and by 1 April we went live with online payments, offering home delivery to the public for the first time.”
By signing up to Buy Local and turning their attention to social media promotion, customers started to purchase products from Stuart’s Foods when supermarkets were facing shortages.
They also began to help local businesses including a butchers and a soft drinks supplier by adding their products to the website and including these in the deliveries.
“We started to help those who are self-isolating and in the vulnerable category,” added Damian. “I was under no illusions – the general public will buy where it’s easiest, in a supermarket they can get everything they want, it’s easy and convenient. However, even though more shops are re-opening we have new customers who are buying products, and some who are placing repeat orders.”
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.”
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.