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Missing the public...Nigel Chapman says resident cat at his garden centre Rosie has been "suffering terribly" by the lack of visitors. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

Businesses able to operate in Timaru under Level 3 were thankful to be up and running again after weeks of being in lockdown.

“Financially we had five weeks of no sales,” garden centre owner Nigel Chapman said after he placed his business in full lockdown and spent his time on general maintenance work. His full-time employee did not work during that time.

“It made it a lot harder but we felt it was safer to keep it in the family. We live on site.

“We were hit as hard as every other retail business. But the response since being able to have pay and collect [under Level 3] has been fantastic. We’re luckier than a lot of businesses.

“The biggest issue being a garden centre is that we are losing add-on sales because people order exactly what they want and collect it.”

He said there was no impulse buying.

“As a garden centre, we’re a lot better placed than other businesses.”

During the lockdown people had worked on their gardens, preparing them for planting, and the next step was buying plants online.

“Our shop is closed but we’ve got a big site and we’re fortunate people can drive in and out, and can come and pick up their plants.”

Mr Chapman said the lockdown had been a “necessary evil”.

“The sooner we come out of it the better. I can’t wait till life gets back to normal.”

Ready to go…Order online and collect was keeping Timaru Coffee Culture workers Ambar Thompspn (left) and Georgia Wright busy. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

Once the Level 4 lockdown ended, people were also able to satisfy their quality coffee fix.

Timaru Coffee Culture worker Georgia Wright said they had been extremely busy the weekend after Level 4 ended and that had continued.

Other small-business operators in Timaru have managed to keep the wheels of commerce turning with online sales.