Dear Loaf & Larderers
So what have we been up to over the last week?
We continue to describe Loaf and Larder as a lifeboat – both for you and us as a business. We need to try and maintain a trickle of income so we can keep the business going until such time as the restrictions ease and the threat from corona is kept under control. We’ve closed the HQ Deli to casual customers and are operating it very much as a picking and packing station for Loaf & Larder. It’s almost unrecognisable from what those of you who’ve visited us will remember – gone are the bowls of loose olives and the fridges and chillers are full of milk, butter, eggs and dairy; Ben and Annie are doing an amazing job baking bread every day, picking the orders and getting them ready to go to the warehouse which is now manned by husband and wife team, Steve and Donna, working in their own protected bubble. As soon as orders arrive they are printed, picked, packed to be sent by couriers to wherever they need to go.
Where the deliveries are local enough to deliver it’s mainly been me that loads them into the car and sets off to take them direct to doorsteps where I’ve met some amazing people and had some wonderful conversations. If ever there was a silver lining in all this it’s my discovery of places in Dorset I never knew existed – the roads are almost deserted and the villages too – scarcely a person outside. I’ve realised that Loaf & Larder is not just a vital food delivery service, it’s a social service too – simply because I’m the first person they have seen in three or four weeks. My longest delivery round so far was 178 miles and I have so far clocked up around 2500 or so miles since we launched.
The rhythm of our days has changed and each day seems to blur into the next – it really is all a bit groundhog as I’m sure it must be for many of you too. The sound of the building is totally different, too – no longer the steady hum of machines when production is in full swing, or the chatter of customers in the Deli or the clink of mugs in the canteen or even the stomp of feet to the printer or up and down the stairs. Instead, I come into an empty building save for Svet and Laura May quietly packing by hand and Ben, whistling quietly to himself as he puts yet more loaves into the oven. I come upstairs and settle down to print off the orders from overnight and deal with the admin from the previous days orders – amazingly, this can take a good couple of hours although now I am getting used to it so it seems to be settling into an easier job. Then it’s plough through emails and post, take deliveries to the warehouse, put orders onto the system, take orders over the phone and monitor orders coming in for Mail Order and L&L and work out the evenings delivery route. By 5pm I am loading the car and trying to work out the most economical route to take then by 5.30 set off – normally between 7 and 10 drops and I get back to Stur by 8 or 9pm only to repeat the whole exercise the next day. I am doing things I haven’t done for years and relearning old techniques and operations; I’m finding things I never knew we had and can spend hours looking for things I know we’ve got but with no one to ask can’t find!
For those of you on Furlough or Self Isolating, I hope you’re safe and managing to get out and about as you need to and I both Annie and I thank you for all your support to Olives Et Al and now Loaf & Larder over the years and I hope, with your help and a massive team effort from those left in the business, together we’ll be able to steer this lifeboat safely to the other side.
Please do share, promote and tell everyone you know about Loaf & Larder – the more orders we get, the stronger our lifeboat gets – both for you and us, as a business!
Please stay safe, stay well and I hope to see you all again very soon. Don’t be a stranger – give us a call next week – I’d like to know how you’re doing…
All the very best and Keep Your Gin Up
Giles & Annie