‘We hope to stay open for as long as possible’ – Dereham shops determined to support the local community

Damon and Mel Harris of Harris Hardware will stay open for as long as possible selling essential cle

Damon and Mel Harris of Harris Hardware will stay open for as long as possible selling essential cleaning products, hand sanitisers and DIY items Picture: Harris Hardware - Credit: Archant

In the unsettling times we find ourselves in, there are people who are going above and beyond to keep us safe, healthy and fed. Independent shops in Dereham which provide essential items and are exempt from the Government’s ban are doing all they can to stay open and support their local communities.

Damon and Mel Harris of Harris Hardware will stay open for as long as possible selling essential cle

Damon and Mel Harris of Harris Hardware will stay open for as long as possible selling essential cleaning products, hand sanitisers and DIY items Picture: Harris Hardware - Credit: Archant

The term “shop local” has taken on a whole new meaning this week as we limit our movements and stay as close to home as possible in a bid to tackle coronavirus.

Independent shops in Dereham which provide essential items and are exempt from the Government’s ban are doing all they can to stay open and support their local communities.

Damon and Mel Harris of Harris Hardware, on the Market Place in Dereham, are currently open 9am-2pm daily, and are determined to stay open for as long as possible while their customers need them.

“We sell a lot of things that people want, like hand sanitiser, gloves, masks, cleaning products and DIY products to help keep people occupied while they’re at home,” said Damon, adding that he has regular deliveries of hand sanitiser and is offering a refill service for people who bring their own bottles, as well as decanting into 100ml bottles to sell.

Tony Perkins butchers will remain open and is also offering an extended delivery service to get food

Tony Perkins butchers will remain open and is also offering an extended delivery service to get food out to those who are self isolating Picture: Phil Scott - Credit: Archant


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“Obviously, we have to take it day by day and see what Mr Johnson says, but we hope to stay open for as long as possible. We’re doing everything we can to follow the guidelines; we’ve cordoned off the majority of the shop, so that people just come to the counter, tell us what they want, then we go and get it for them.

“We’ve put tape on the floor every two metres so that people can clearly see how far apart they need to be for social distancing. We just want to keep people safe, be there for them and provide the things they need for as long as possible.

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It’s a similar sentiment from butcher Tony Perkins, whose shop on Norwich Street in Dereham is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8am-5pm, and Saturday 8am-4pm, with strict measures in place to ensure social distancing.

“We’ve got our own vans which we normally use for delivering to restaurants and pubs, but now we’re putting them to good use delivering to people’s homes,” said Tony, adding that they can cover pretty much all of Breckland and South Norfolk, and orders can be placed by phone, email and through shopappy.com.

Tony Perkins butchers will remain open and is also offering an extended delivery service to get food

Tony Perkins butchers will remain open and is also offering an extended delivery service to get food out to those who are self isolating Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

In terms of the supply chain holding up, although staple items such as chicken, mince and sausages aren’t as plentiful as they usually are due to high demand, Tony is confident they have enough to see them through.

“At the moment, we’re not limiting how much people can order, but we’re asking them to be sensible and not order loads and loads to last them months – there’s no need to do that.”

Tony hopes to stay open for the duration of the lockdown and beyond, and has been overwhelmed by people’s reactions. “It’s quite humbling really,” he said. “I’ve had some really nice emails from people. We’re just taking each day as it comes and adapting what we do to fit in with guidelines while still helping people get the food they need.

“Who knows, it might even change people’s perspectives on how we go about our daily lives. We all used to have milk delivered to our doors and go to our local butchers and bakeries – maybe this will change habits long term.”

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