Running a village shop during a pandemic – ‘I’m very proud’

AN ALL-FEMALE staff have been running the Broughton Village Store throughout lockdown, cementing the shop at the heart of the community.

Community stores and initiatives across the Borders have faced major obstacles during the pandemic.

But the staff and volunteers at Broughton Village Store have weathered the storm, with manager Jennifer McBeth praising her team’s efforts.

She said: “I am very proud looking back over the last few months on how the staff, our families, volunteers and committee have come together even more to make sure our village and surrounding areas were fed and watered.

“The shop has become more than ever the central hub for the community – the community has rallied round even more.

“We have been in a fortunate position to have volunteers who have contributed towards making life easier for our vulnerable and shielding residents.”

As more information on the threat of the virus was made public, Mrs McBeth stepped up to change the way the shop worked, altering layouts and implementing safety measures for staff and customers alike.

“As soon as things started to move, I changed the layout and access to the shop, put hand sanitiser in the shop for the public and staff to use, closed off the back shop area to staff only and implemented one customer in at any one time.

“Everyone adjusted very quickly to this.

“Luckily we have a canopy over the front of the shop, which in turn kept the waiting customers dry, in our typical Scottish weather.

“Everyone adhered to social distancing rules as we got the pavement marked off.

“We also started a delivery service free of charge to the people that are shielding, elderly and anyone else who could not get out to shop.

“Customers would phone, place their order, then [they] would receive their shopping that afternoon via volunteers.”

The team of six staff, three volunteers and a group of volunteer drivers ensured the store remained open during lockdown.

Mrs McBeth added: “Running a shop at any time is a lot of hard work – organising stock orders, merchandising, staff etc – then COVID-19 came into our lives.

“This meant things had to change very quickly.

“Forward thinking is something you have to do. Facing new challenges, having to adhere to government guidelines and health organisation advice and putting steps in place to protect my staff and our community.

“I have made sure that our shelves have been fully stocked, even when there was shortage of flour, toilet roll, pasta.”

Initially the store saw customers’ average spend increase and footfall drop, with fewer customers shopping in-person.

However, as restrictions are eased, more customers are returning to shop.

“I am very proud of myself and my staff since lockdown started,” said Mrs McBeth, adding that she and her staff cancelled their holidays.

Broughton Village Store offers a range of produce, including fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh bread and other cupboard staples.

Border Telegraph | News