And, what we’re doing to help our community in the current lockdown.
You may think that because we’re an online retailer, we’d be less affected by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown.
However, we also have a local convenience store, and with the panic buying crazy antics, queues, empty shelves at the big supermarkets, and severe lack of delivery slots for those that are at risk, or maybe even already sick and can’t go out… a delivery slot 3 weeks away, is not really much help. Never mind the fact that so many products can’t even be ordered for said delivery slot since they’re out of stock.
We have a busy store. Our local customers have shopped with us for years and will continue to shop with us long after this terrible virus has run its course.
So, we can’t in good conscience hike the prices on the products we sell, just because people can’t get them at the big supermarkets. We’ll have to look those same customers in the eye after this is over, and we value a warm smile and sincere appreciation, from us for their custom, and from them for our service… much more than a quick short term profit from an unprecedented situation such as this pandemic.
Helping Our Local Community
That is why we’ve had volunteers from our lovely local community help deliver free essential supplies to at risk people around Washington.
A few weeks ago, you could find things like bread, reduced to as little as 10p by the end of a typical day in most big supermarkets… just to try and avoid it going in their bins, and instead adding a few pennies to the day’s takings.
Today, the shelves for those simple daily essentials are empty in most supermarkets.
The bizarre bulk buying and hoarding of loo rolls, or perhaps more understandable panic buying of hand sanitiser has sadly revealed a survival of the fittest mentality. Get there first, get as much as you can carry, and try not to think too much about the slow pokes at the back who missed out today, so will have to put themselves at risk again tomorrow by making a second attempt to get some.
A great many of those slow pokes being the elderly and at risk people who really shouldn’t be made to risk any further exposure than they already have.
So, we’ve provided as much as possible in the form of small essentials bags, for free, to as many at risk people as we can. All delivered by wonderful volunteers, so they don’t have to come out and risk exposure to get these essentials. A little bread, some fruit, other assorted food items, depending on what we can source and of course hand sanitiser and loo rolls.
Supplied free. Delivered free.
And for those less vulnerable, who still need those essentials, we’re open and have put in place measures to help ensure safe social distancing and limit the number of people in our store at any given time.
As for the price hiking that’s been witnessed in some places… with some products, such as hand sanitiser, the wholesale price has rocketed, so it’s not always the retailer who’s hiking the price, but still, some definitely are.
Helping Front Line Services
In some cases, the price is irrelevant, because there’s simply no stock left anyway. Wholesalers have run out too.
We had to think on our feet, adapt and figure out a new way to source what has become a must have for so many people. Even the local health authorities have run out.
This is where operating an online vaping store suddenly came to the rescue.
We have a creative bunch of manufacturers and suppliers, and when they put their heads together and considered… how hard can it be to manufacture hand sanitiser? They had the manufacturing infrastructure, so… they got to work and created a simple alcohol-based hand sanitiser product. They had the end result lab tested for safety of use and once confirmed, went into production.
So, we had sourced a completely new manufacturer of hand sanitiser.
We provided Sunderland City Council/Gentoo with 3,000 bottles at cost, and when the North East Ambulance Service said they had run out of hand sanitiser, not only did we supply at cost, we convinced our manufacturer to supply at cost for that order too, and we succeeded in providing the ambulance service with 11,000 bottles.
For our local customers who can’t find hand sanitiser anywhere else, we’re selling from our shop at cost, too.
It’s still not cheap in comparison to prices before the pandemic, but we won’t profit from it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Day to Day Operations
As for our day to day online operations at Washington Vapes, we can’t at the moment guarantee same day dispatch. We’re even having to close the store for short periods to manage order levels. We’ve had to reduce staffing levels temporarily to ensure everyone is able to work while still maintaining a safe distance apart, but otherwise, we’ll keep on keeping on and continue to provide great products, at great prices… as quickly as we can.
We appreciate your patience during those periods we have to close the store for a while.
Just be sensible folks.
Stay home and go out only if you absolutely must.
Keep a good distance apart from others.
Be thoughtful of what you touch. (This is not the time to be picking up and looking at 50 different items in a shop, and then putting them back.)
Be conscious of others in your community who may be at greater risk and may need extra help to limit their chances of exposure.
All at Washington Vapes.