Small local businesses are the heart of any community. However, in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many have struggled to keep afloat. According to data collected by Simply Business, the total cost to the UK’s small businesses could exceed  £69 billion with an average cost of £11,799 to each business owner. I spoke to local business owner, James Louis, to see how he has handled the past 7 months and what he has learned from this unusual experience.

James Louis owns the grocery shop Two Peas in a Pod in Barnes

   GA: How would you describe Two Peas in a Pod?

   JL: Two peas in a pod is a healthy lifestyle store that strives to be informative, friendly, and offer a truly customer-centric experience. Our shop aims to be a one-stop destination for anyone and everyone interested in bettering their diet and their kitchen cupboards!

   GA: How long did you have to prepare for the national lockdown in March?

   JL: We had very little if any time to prepare. When the rest of the country found out about lockdown is when we found out, we had to adapt and change overnight.

   GA: What was the greatest change you had to make to keep the shop running?

   JL:  We closed the shop to customers entirely. Overnight we created an email domain that customers could send their orders into, as well as our Instagram account, and started trading like this during the lockdown. We’ve never offered a delivery service before and are still developing our website so it was a huge shift to what we were used to.

   GA: What is the biggest lesson you have learned since march that you will continue to take with you into the future?

   JL: Building up a big stock level gradually. Many suppliers ran out of products in the first week of lockdown and were without them for months due to mass panic orders. Being a smaller shop, we can’t order vast quantities so were often left without certain items. However, we were able to adapt and source different versions of the same product from other suppliers. However, definitely, a lesson learned to keep a bigger inventory of things that aren’t perishable “just in case”

   GA: To finish off, is there anything positive to have come out of the past seven months for Two Peas in a Pod?

   JL: Positive is that we were able to draw in new customers through our new delivery service which we have kept going indefinitely. We have seen an upturn in fresh fruit and vegetables bought as customers are responding to the pandemic by wanting to eat fresher and healthier food wherever possible