Farm shop opens ‘McDonald’s style drive-thru’ service during lockdown
- Credit: JAMES BLYTH
A farm shop has become the first in Suffolk to offer a drive-thru service during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing people to shop for produce from the safety of their own cars.
Friday Street Farm Shop, in Saxmundham, launched the new service today to cater for people who want to avoid exposing themselves to others amid the Covid-19 crisis.
James Blyth, owner of the farm shop, says the service follows the “same principle as McDonald’s”, with customers able to drive up, order their items, pay and have their shopping packed into the boot of their car – all without having to leave their vehicle.
Mr Blyth said: “With around 50% of people self-isolating, we wanted to offer the drive-thru option to minimise the contact and risk to both our customers and staff.”
The service brings the farm shop directly to the customer in the comfort of their own vehicle, with a contactless card machine on the end of a long pole to avoid unnecessary contact.
More: Subscribe to our daily coronavirus newsletter, with all the latest from where you liveThe farm shop hopes this will bring a safer service to its customers in these uncertain times, where it is often difficult to know who has touched items at large supermarkets.
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Mr Blyth said: “I copied the idea from my friend Stuart Beare, who owns Tulleys Farm Shop near Gatwick, after noticing an increased demand in home delivery orders which we were receiving from the elderly and vulnerable.
“I hope that this new drive-thru service helps those who have been struggling to get home deliveries, as there are only so many orders we can do in one day.”
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Among the items available at the drive-thru service are boxes of vegetables, fruit, salad, meat, pasta, milk, bread, eggs and crips.
Beer and wine are also available from the farm shop’s new service, who says there has been an increase in alcohol orders during the pandemic.
The items available at the drive-thru will change over the coming days and weeks depending on what is popular with customers, with Mr Blyth planning to launch an ‘essential’ box with a selection of the necessary items.
Mr Blyth added: “This gives people the alternative and allows them to follow social distancing rules.”
The service will initially operate from 11am to 4pm from Tuesdays to Fridays, with the possibility of extending to a Saturday.
Meanwhile the shop will still be open for business, with staff ensuring social distancing measures with a maximum of 12 people allowed inside at one time, hand-wash stations at the front doors and a limit of one person per family where possible.
Mr Blyth says he has noticed his customers are coming to the farm shop less often – and therefore they are following government guidelines to do one weekly shop – but when they do come they are spending 2.5 times the amount of a normal basket.
Mr Blyth expressed his appreciation for the customers who are supporting the farm shop during these uncertain times, which has been challenging for many local businesses.
More: Impact of coronavirus on businesses in Suffolk ‘universal’ new survey saysHe thanked his staff for their continued efforts and says they are doing a “fabulous job”.