Starting a business in a pandemic and vaccinating the nation at the same time!
Wife, mummy, pharmacist, lecturer, entrepreneur, blah, blah, blah…labels; horrible aren’t they! But they are my story and it maybe helps you understand how I’ve arrived here.
This part of my story begins a little before my 40th birthday (which is a few of years ago now, I’ll be honest). At a barbeque with family and friends, (remember those?!) I talked about how it would be great if there was a one-stop shopping delivery service that went and collected your shopping for you from all your small local indie businesses.
I harked back to my late 20’s early 30’ when I’d stroll in to Didsbury with my shopping bags. We’d visit the fishmonger, the butcher, the green grocer etcetera and pick up a pastry from my favourite patisserie before meandering home. By my mid 30’s; babies arrived and life got a bit more fun and challenging in equal measure. I didn’t have the energy to walk up the stairs for a shower let alone waltz around seven thousand shops just to get my groceries. Yes, yes I know the quality is better but I just don’t have the TIME!!! In 2018 we moved house, we got back in to our groove and started walking to our new village to shop at our local butcher, fishmonger, green grocer. We were a very short stroll to the village and the children enjoyed coming and picking out their own apples etc. Then the green grocers closed and we were all sad. Small local businesses just can’t compete with the undeniable convenience and cost of supermarkets. This is when the barbeque happened and my idea was born…
Later in 2018, my husband arranged a surprise birthday trip, just the two of us! And on my birthday after dinner he romantically presented me with….a domain name! local.shopping was mine! Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, we always say the ‘dot’. He had pondered my idea and this time, decided that there might just be something in it! You see, I have lots of ideas; it’s kinda my thing. He patiently (for the most part) listens to them all whilst knowing I’ll likely do nothing more with it because, well, life happens and I always have at least two jobs on the go, kids to feed and unicorns to look after! But he saw my passion for this one was different. He could see the fire light in me when I spoke about it and he encouraged me to move with it. We had a development site built, I’m not a tech person – it wasn’t pretty but it was, more importantly (we thought) functional. We showed it to a few marketeers and we were disappointed to hear their thoughts. Confidence knocked and tail between my legs I put it to the bottom of the ‘to do’ pile; I had a great job lecturing at the Medical School; local.shopping wasn’t meant to be. It was just another idea, a fantasy, something I just couldn’t make work.
Fast forward to LOCKDOWN 1.0 (March 2020), full of what can only be described as a hysterical adrenaline rush (it’s quite natural when faced with something so monumental and out with your control) I was abound with energy and knew I needed to help our local businesses…and fast. I built a new website on one platform and then another, learning so much I thought my mind would explode. Each time I encountered a problem that was too large to fix; this was not a straight forward e-commerce site. I eventually landed on WordPress, and for those of you thinking about setting up websites with no prior experience, I can wholeheartedly tell you – avoid it if you can… but that’s another post! Stay on point Jodie! I got a site that looked good, did most of what I wanted it to do. I pitched it to our local butcher who loved it, he didn’t have an online presence and although he was permitted to stay open, footfall was way down. I then pitched to a few big players in Didsbury and they loved the concept too.
A ‘one-stop’ online shop for your local high street. Local.shopping, bringing the high street home. Delivering your shopping from multiple vendors in one go. You buy from all the different businesses right here on our site and our trusted delivery drivers collect it all and deliver it to you, when you want it. Flat rate delivery, flat rate commission, not greedy, just enough to cover costs and grow. Things moved quickly, businesses were ‘pivoting’ left right and centre. The local café quickly became a fruit and veg shop and a particularly entrepreneurial beauty therapist moved in to the refillable market (more about Katie and her journey in the next blog!) – all a perfect ‘fit’ for local.shopping. My local business partners grew quickly and I secured some mentoring from Google and was able to set up my analytics and business pages quickly, we were soon on the first page of searches for ‘local shopping in my area’ (Google goals people!).
The summer came and went with a steady flow of orders but nothing mind blowing. I needed to invest in marketing but you have to find the right person, they need the passion you have and they have to really ‘get’ you. I put if off, then Christmas orders picked up when shoppers realised they didn’t have to queue for half an hour outside their favourite cheese shop, they could get it all on local.shopping but by this time my friends in the NHS were frazzled and I knew I had skills that could help. So, with an essential ‘call to duty’ I went back to work at my hospital vaccination centre. You see, I progressed so much with local.shopping in lockdown 1.0 but vaccinating the nation was what was going to get us back to a normal that we vaguely recognised, so it was an easy decision. I’m now managing orders around my shifts and roping in the husband for deliveries on snowy days when he also has the children and I am out at the vaccination centre. He really loves me doesn’t he!
So, what’s next for local.shopping? Well, it’s still early days but we will grow. I’ve met some incredible people on my journey so far and I’m excited to be working with them. When you know, you know!
I am looking to employ a full-time delivery driver and someone to manage our social pages with me. We have great plans, and as we do emerge from this to a life that we once knew, we will be busy once again and convenience is King (or Queen if you don’t mind!) and local.shopping with be more relevant than ever.
Are you ready to give us a try?