Garden centre opens farm shop to attract customers after taking £1m hit
- Credit: Archant
A garden centre which has taken a £1m hit this year has turned its restaurant into a farm shop to attract customers looking for an alternative to supermarkets.
When the second national lockdown was announced Thetford Garden Centre was once again forced to close its restaurant.
But to make up for lost business, a temporary farm shop selling local produce and offering an alternative to busy supermarkets has opened in its place.
Garden centre owner Lucy Nixon said: “We knew the restaurant had to close and it is a large area of our shop floor space so we thought we would turn it into a temporary farm shop for the four-week closure to provide essential products.
“We have local meat, fruit and vegetables, baking things, flour, bread mix, pasta, world foods, local fresh eggs, cakes and pies.
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“It has been going really well and for people who don’t want to go to the supermarket, it is a nice shopping environment.”
During what would usually be their busiest time of the year, Mrs Nixon said the garden centre has been quiet.
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But in a bid to “claw back” what they have lost, when lockdown lifts from December 2, Mrs Nixon said they will be extending their opening hours until 8pm.
She said: “When the second lockdown was announced we were so relieved garden centres were allowed to stay open – it was a huge lifeline.
“November is traditionally our busiest month of the year, when we take the most money.
“This year so far, we are down £1m in turnover. Now it all hangs on the three weeks in December before Christmas.”
Earlier this year, families were disappointed to find out that Thetford Garden Centre’s Santa’s Grotto would not go ahead. But Mrs Nixon said they have also come up with new way to spread some Christmas cheer.
She said: “We found a production company in London and they filmed us a piece which is in preproduction.
“Families can buy a ticket and they will be sent a link to three 10-minute films of Santa reading Christmas stories by JRR Tolkien.
“They will also get a personalised T-shirt, certificate and sticker. And they can also have the films personalised with their child’s name.
“We are also supporting the charity Action for Children and we will be giving the film free to local children’s wards over the festive season.”
To buy a ticket for Santa’s Storytime, follow the link here, santa-storytime.com/.