Easy Writer Comic + Photography Ian Kelsey
Illustrated by Howfunnydesigns
The phone rings.
Editor: Go and find out what the boys at Ginger and Dobbs Shoreham are up during the lockdown.
Me: OK, Where and When?
Editor: Tomorrow, 5 am Hollingbury Veg market.
Me: What time?!
Editor Don’t forget your camera!
The phone goes dead, I go to bed.
I meet Ginger at the market. Its already a hive of activity with the pre ordered pallets being sorted and awaiting pick up. Even at this time of day the banter is in full flow. Enter stage right that bloke who was in Heartbeat (I wasn’t). I get a hammering from every angle. I take my camera out to document Gingers long day and the hecklers get camera shy and hide behind the cucumbers and rocket.
Ginger and Dobbs have been hit like everyone else in this epidemic, but they have adapted. They had to. “It was act or die”
says Ginger. Half the premises was a buzzing cafe, that space is now fruit and veg and the deliveries have gone through the roof. There is a strange tension between the buyers as they share stories of how quickly their worlds have expanded and the struggle to meet the demands of orders to be met. “Ridiculous crazy, scary” one guy remarks as he walks past us. He was wearing a rather fetching designer onesie also. You know who you are…No picture sorry.
Ginger knows his stuff, and has a nose for a good tomato, well to be honest, if its fruit or veg he knows everything there is to know. Even where the peas are from at what time of year. Today its Italy. “Taste these” he says as he takes the peas from the pod and throws them in his mouth. His PPE mask is still on and the peas fall uneaten to the floor.
Again, second fail with the camera. Come on, Kelsey, be ready for these moments! Ginger carries on, “One good thing, we are re-educating individual palates. With the quality of this fresh veg that people are receiving they are realising it’s a better product than they were getting in the supermarket and in many cases its cheaper”
Back at the shop and Justin is manning the phone and sorting out the 50 deliveries for the day. I chat with him about the packaging issues facing grocers in these sterile times and the ongoing problems with one use plastics, but that’s another day and many pages…
There is a real feel of community about this shop, and they have hit this problem head on and with great humour. I have had a lovely day, but now I need my sleep.
P.S. Dobbs was a dog; in case you were wondering.
Ginger & Dobbs opened 8 years ago in the centre of Shoreham as a café and provisions store. Since then it has become established as a foodies’ haven, a place where the very best produce, much of it locally sourced from Sussex growers, is beautifully cooked and presented for you to sit and enjoy or is available for you to take home and cook for yourself.
The values that underpin the small and friendly team that make up Ginger & Dobbs are committed to delivering an efficient but personal service to their customers, supporting and collaborating with local Sussex businesses and producers, and continually striving to improve environmental sustainability.
Part of the Ginger & Dobbs vision is to help to bring community back to the high street; supporting this ethos with a variety of pop-up evening events with high quality sharing platters and great atmosphere. They also have plans to open a second venue to expand these evenings but for now these on hold. All their energy is going into the challenge of adapting to, and surviving, the impact of the current pandemic.
Before COVID-19 struck, Ginger and Dobbs was the buzzing heart of Shoreham, filled with locals enjoying the banter and fantastic breakfast and brunches washed down with artisan coffees, teas and freshly squeezed juice, before browsing through high quality produce in the storeroom next door to take home. This ground to a halt in March 2020 with the corona-virus lockdown. Coincidentally, Ginger and Dobbs had already been developing a delivery service to Shoreham residents prior to this so all their efforts went into ramping this up to serve the residents of Shoreham and beyond, with priority given to those at risk, isolating or vulnerable.
The development of this service has been an important part of Ginger and Dobbs response to the corona virus with the team putting their energies into sourcing, preparing and delivering up to 300 grocery selection boxes. This included devising safe ways of working to minimize risks to staff and to those who were self-isolating at home. To enable expansion of this delivery service, Ginger and Dobbs sourced new premises where boxes could be packed on a larger scale, created a new website and online ordering system and purchase a refrigerated delivery van.
Their core value of sustainability came under pressure when sourcing the packaging for the ramped-up delivery volumes. Their policy of supplying freshly squeezed orange juice in reusable glass bottles has had to be revised (at least until a way can be found to ensure that there is no risk of contamination from returned bottles). In the meantime, they are having to use recyclable packaging.
As well as expanding their delivery service, Ginger and Dobbs devised a way to be able to serve customers at a counter on the pavement at the front of the store. To reduce handling of produce, and to maintain social distancing, bespoke lists can be picked for customers by staff wearing PPE, this allows customers to shop at their favourite local store visit and buy produce, in conditions that are safe for them and for staff.
Ginger and Dobbs are monitoring the measures to control the virus which continues to restrict the re-opening of the café but are pushing ahead with plans to serve the local community from a mobile food outlet, further develop a grab and go offer from the shop and expand their “homemade deli” ranges such as Salsa Verde and Smoked Mackerel Pate.
So far, Ginger and Dobbs have adapted to meet the first wave of change brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. They will continue to grow the business by listening to the local community and delivering what people want, high quality produce, produced and packaged in a sustainable way and delivered with care and attention.
Ginger & Dobbs