‘It’s emotionally hard’: Garden centre boss on surviving lockdown

Sam Lowe, manager of Garden Centre Overstrand. The company is still operating a delivery service dur

Sam Lowe, manager of Garden Centre Overstrand. The company is still operating a delivery service during lockdown.Picture: Garden Centre Overstrand - Credit: Archant

A garden centre manager from north Norfolk has told of the highs and lows of keeping a business running during lockdown.

Since June 2016, Garden Centre Overstrand has offered a wide selection of plants, garden furniture, pet food and gifts from its premises in Mundesley Road, Overstrand.

The flourishing centre also hosts craft and gift fairs in spring, autumn and at Christmas and usually attracts visitors from all over the county.

However, since lockdown was imposed seven weeks ago, the business has been forced to adapt the way it operates in order to survive.

Centre manager Sam Lowe said: “On the Tuesday after lockdown, we took advice from the local council over whether we should stay open because the guidelines at the time were very vague. The council were really helpful and said that although we should close the centre to the public, as we’d always offered deliveries we could carry on doing that.

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“It has been as difficult as it has been nice, because we have delivered to people who live on their own and are so grateful to get the supplies they need - and to see a friendly face. We have also done a lot of gifts which has been really nice.

“We are luckier than some businesses in that we have been able to adapt to keep going, but I personally have found it quite emotionally hard because we have had to close our business in the form it was through no fault of our own.”

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As lockdown has given many people more time to rediscover pastimes such as baking and gardening, Mr Lowe said they had been extremely busy with orders from seasoned gardeners - and budding new ones - and were initally inundated.

He continued: “By the end of the first week we realised we had to have a regroup. It wasn’t sustainable, but we have now tweaked our service and have got it nailed.

“We have tried to be more savvy on what we buy but it’s proved challenging getting the plants we want because many of the big companies have furloughed their drivers so they can’t get the products to us.”

There are now four members of fully paid staff working at the centre, maintaining the plants and servicing orders. The phone lines are now open from 9am to noon, Monday to Friday only, with weekends reserved for maintenance.

The team will deliver to customers as far afield as Holt, North Walsham and Bacton.

Orders can be made over the phone on 01263 579485 or people can email a list of their requirements to info@gardencentreoverstrand.co.uk

You can also keep up to date with new products and offers on the Garden Centre Overstrand’s Facebook page.

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