The Gardens Group has announced plans to manage social distancing at its three garden centres in Sherborne, Poundbury and Yeovil, as the business prepares to open its doors once again on Wednesday 13 May, following seven weeks of closure during the COVID-19 crisis. Having agreed on a rigorous set of protocols with the government, in order to keep both customers and staff safe at all times, shoppers will now have much greater access to gardening supplies as they increasingly take to their gardens during the lockdown.
Among the measures put in place to ensure a safe and comfortable shopping experience for all visitors, are separate entrance and exit doors, one-way systems and a limit on the number of customers onsite at any one time. Screens have been erected by the tills, where payment by card will be requested, and general browsing will be discouraged, with gift items unavailable to purchase onsite for the time being.
A drive-through compost shop has also been introduced, for those who just need a few bags, while customers will be invited to purchase large items such as garden furniture by taking the relevant barcodes to the till, where staff will arrange for free home delivery. To help visitors manage the new one-way system, the team has produced maps of each garden centre, so that shopping lists can be made in the right order.
Having spent the past six weeks reaching out to avid gardeners via its telephone order line with free delivery, providing a lifeline for many in the local community, this service will be kept in place for those vulnerable customers who remain stuck at home. An email ordering service is also planned, giving customers as many options as possible to carry on gardening, keeping them mentally and physically fit, whilst also giving the whole family something productive to do.
Mike Burks, managing director of The Gardens Group and chairman of the Garden Centre Association, commented: “We’re delighted to be welcoming customers back into our garden centres, as we know just how important gardening is to many across the region, especially at a time when other outdoor pursuits are so limited. We’ve done our utmost to continue serving customers during the lockdown and the team has gone above and beyond to execute our hastily expanded delivery service – something we introduced not because is was the easiest or most financially beneficial thing to do, but as we saw it as our social responsibility to support those looking to their gardens for solace and sanctuary. We also knew that, whereas we might survive by hiding under a blanket during lockdown, our growers, who have supplied us for many years, would not. I’m very proud of the way our much reduced team has weathered the storm, and the number of emails, cards and letters we’ve received thanking us has been was overwhelming. We’ll be taking a big step towards normality on Wednesday, as all three garden centres reopen, and we’re ready to do all we can to make this work for the good of both customers and staff. We’ve reinvented the business once in the last two months and I feel confident that we can do it again.”
Brimsmore Gardens in Yeovil, Castle Gardens in Sherborne and Poundbury Gardens in Dorchester will all reopen from Wednesday 13 May, with the reduced opening hours of 9am - 4pm, Monday to Saturday, and 10am - 4:30pm on Sunday.
Telephone orders for the garden centres and farm shop can be placed over the phone, and delivery is free within 25 miles. Customers are advised to keep an eye on The Gardens Group’s website for the current status of its ordering and delivery service, as sometimes it will need to be suspended so the reduced teams can catch up with orders.
Brimsmore Gardens, Yeovil - 01935 411000
The Apple Tree Farm Shop, Yeovil - 01935 426596
Castle Gardens, Sherborne - 01935 814633
Poundbury Gardens, Dorchester - 01305 25725