Is that light at the end of the tunnel?

(or is it an oncoming train?)

Here we are again then – the promise of “normality” and being able to get back to doing what we do best, providing a fantastic social space with great drinks for our community. But, as is typical, it is not all as exciting as it seems – yet. For, as is the way with the current government, it is a complicated, multi-tiered beast of a roadmap out of lockdown, and once again, we are right at the end of it.

We don’t have outdoor space, so can’t open at stage 2 in April, and as a small, snug, independent space, stage 3 in May offers promise but won’t deliver what we love most about The Tuppenny, that buzz of people interacting, meeting new people and sharing experiences. Full on Tuppennyness. Rather, it will be a watered down version, that tantalising glimpse of what could be as you all sit in your carefully spaced groups wondering what is actually on tap at the bar behind the wall and wishing you could go and have a chat with your buddy the other side of the room.

But, it is a start, an improvement on the current situation, as far as business is concerned. It isn’t ideal of course, only goes some way to resolving financial issues and some aspects of it do leave us worried. We genuinely do not want to open whilst there is still risk to the community. We would rather stay closed until it is safe, and we are not totally convinced the current government would know what safe was if it politely introduced itself to them and took them for a pint. But, if current funding from government is anything to go by, we are going to be forced to open at the earliest opportunity in order to survive. We have said it before but the £1k to £2k a month that gets handed out does not cover fixed costs. Not even close to doing it. We, as all hospitality businesses are doing at the moment, are burning cash, which is something we do not have spare to burn.

We are trying our hardest to find ways to stay afloat and solvent. Our online shop and delivery service has been a real lifeline and the events we have done have kept us mentally going too. The support we have had with these from you so far has been magnificent and very gratefully received. But, at the current rate, it is slow progress. The longer this goes on, the further away we get from safety. We have written to our MP to ensure he is aware of the situation and to ask for him to represent us and our colleagues in the industry to the Chancellor to secure realistic and suitable funding for the remaining time we have to be closed. We have also asked him to campaign to allow us to return to selling click & collect / takeaway as soon as possible and not wait until mid-April. The simple fact is, the shops can do it, so why can’t we? Our licence is the same. But, we are not holding our breath.

Which brings us to the bottom line of this post. We don’t like putting out the hat, begging and bemoaning our lot but the simple fact is, in order to be able to open our doors to you again in the summer, we need to up the ante. There is no Plan B for us. So we need your help. We think we have a great offering in our webshop, products that are not available everywhere and that will suit all pockets and tastes. But sales are not what they need to be which leads us to ponder, what are we not doing? What can we do better? What do you all want from us? Let us know. Please. We have asked before to muted response, but we genuinely want to know what you are looking for. Our business is more about the people than anything else. What products are we missing? What are your favourites? Is there a way we can improve what we do for you?

We believe we are the sort of business that people really want to have in Old Town, that they wouldn’t want to lose. If this truly is the case, please look at buying through us and the other amazing local independent retailers, instead of the supermarket or distant online retailer. Keep your money in the local community, supporting local people and the businesses that you want to still be there when you can go out. You don’t just have to buy craft beer, we stock plenty of traditional beer from local brewers. We have wine including a selection of natural, bio-dynamic wines that I don’t think you can get anywhere else locally, we have fantastic coffee for home use, our cocktails are reduced in price and we do non-alcoholic drinks too. We also have t-shirts, tote bags and Mother’s Day gifts. Or you can buy bar tab vouchers as a future investment in us. Deliveries are free to those of you in the Swindon area, but feel free to tip us in lieu of delivery charges. Everything helps.

Even if times are tough for you, as we know they are for a lot of us, you can share what we post with your friends, let others know what we do, get involved in any events we do, don’t be shy! Whilst these may not support us financially, they support us mentally and give us the motivation and determination to keep going. We have some amazing ideas coming to fruition, both for before this ends and for once you can come back, and we want to be able to see them through for you.

We love what we do, The Tuppenny means the absolute world to us. You are all part of that world too, so let’s all fight on together to protect it. The end is in sight and a new beginning is taking shape. Lets enjoy it together.

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