Isolation diary: Keeping businesses going

Small local businesses are struggling, but some have come up with ingenious ways of keeping the income flowing whilst supporting the community. And that means we can continue to support local businesses while we are in isolation.

As I write I am expecting a delivery from a food wholesaler in South London, who would normally supply restaurants and pubs. At the weekend they started home deliveries, so I put in an order for some essentials to tide me over until the main supermarket delivery arrives next week.  They were offering a veg and fruit box, dairy, eggs plus an eclectic mix of catering packs. They didn’t ask for any money, so I realised that they had not yet implemented the transition from invoicing to taking payment in advance.

I phoned them on Monday and heard a message saying that they had been inundated with orders and would phone when the order was ready. Sure enough, yesterday a cheerful staff member phoned up, took my credit card details and told me it would be arriving today. If that works I will certainly place more orders, even if that does mean buying cheese by the kilo.

Just Google “Food wholesalers home delivery near me” to find local companies that you can contact.

Probably the most heartwarming example of an inventive business strategy came to my attention a few day ago, in the comments under one of these diaries. Gordon Lishman told me about Helen Tamblyn-Saville who runs a children’s bookshop in Retford, where she was our Parliamentary candidate last year. She is now inviting customers to “pay it forward“, by donating cash to provide books for local children and young people.

She explains:

The #PayItForward initiative was born on 17th March 2020 when a kind customer paid some money to the bookshop. “Send three books to people who need them,” he said. Later that evening, someone else did the same. The following day, we found some homes for the new books and then the donations began to roll in from other generous people.

We love picking out books for people to make them smile and we ask for people to nominate someone who needs a book. We offer no judgement, we don’t ask for reasons to be explained unless someone wants to talk about it. We are just aiming to spread a little joy. Recipients so far have either responded to social media call outs, or have been nominated by friends.

It’s a real win-win. The business remains active and the community benefits.



Please note

We have been in full self-isolation since 16th March to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.

You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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One Comment

  • Richard Underhill 1st Apr '20 - 7:39pm

    Notcutts nursery has put out an offer, delivered by the Royal Mail one morning recently, of 50% off precisely one item, with other limitations, but no price list. I wanted a walnut tree, but they do not have one, because it grows too large. It is also vulnerable to honey fungus.

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