I thought I'd write a few words about lockdown and what happened in my experience as the owner of Seven Cellars. So many of you were in touch with us throughout, and this is just a bit of inside info. Just because.
We first noticed the news from Italy because we import wines from there and have many friends and acquaintances. Also, unfortunately I caught Covid 19 after a lovely Italian wine tasting event I attended in late February. I was terribly ill but luckily I recovered with no long term effects. After I recovered we began to all speculate about what would happen and I decided it would be best to close if we had to - not wanting to put anyone at risk for a mere bottle of wine and a can of beer - I felt quite sure it would be for the best to close up shop. However our customers had other ideas....
I had spent most of 2019 working with Christie on our website. Completely fruitlessly I might add. We couldn't really understand why it wasn't working for us. We were adding new photos all the time, lovely descriptions, new beers etc. Build it and they would come as goes the saying, but it wasn't happening. We did get the odd sale, maybe once or twice a week but it didn't justify the hours and hours of work. Still we kept faith.
The week of lockdown we began to get a few online orders and we began to let people know we were offering free local delivery. We also shut the door of the shop and went online and delivery only. I must say that for the first three weeks pretty much everyone answered the door still wearing their pyjamas and with glasses of wine already in hand and generally having a hoot!
For other customers there was real fear. We offered contactless delivery and we really tried to make sure everyone was as comfortable with our delivery service as they could be.
My lovely husband, Andy, was amazing as always and helped whenever he could, as my delivery "mate" helping me navigate the deserted streets of Brighton and Hove as we hurtled around town and beyond to Shoreham, Southwick, Worthing, Newhaven, Peacehaven and many other surrounding villages. We will never forget it. Of course with so many deliveries we needed help and it was really fantastic that we could offer work to local people on furlough or unable to work because of the crisis.
Some stories were heartbreaking, people called us who were sending bottles of wine to their friends who had cancelled their weddings, we had birthday gifts sent out from mothers and fathers to their children they couldn't see, and sons and daughters to their parents. People were calling in from Italy, France, Germany, and even Australia to send gifts of wine to people who were lonely and isolated. I know it might sound silly but at the time it felt to me we were offering a really important service. A gift from a long distance friend really brightened up the day for some people, and a chat on the doorstep was always welcome.
And so... we loved it mainly. We worked hard and we felt privileged to be part of peoples lockdown experience. It's been wonderful to help so many people and to make some new customers who we hope we'll keep.
Thank you for sticking with us, without your support where would we be? Thank you so much for helping us to keep going.
We still offer free local delivery but now we have also opened our doors for socially distanced shopping, and I look forward to the day when this is all over and we can all have a drink together at one of our wine tasting evenings. It would be lovely to raise a glass together at our annual Christmas event but who knows?