At last… On June 26th Stones Cider had their first event since a lantern parade on a cold Saturday evening back in February now the local markets slowly begin their reopening after the long interruption.
Admittedly, it was on a very small scale with a stand at our local weekly market in Shepton Mallet with six stands.
I must be thankful to our local district council for still being in business thanks to the small business rates grant. Though they do appear rather slow to get going and still have not come up with a date for the restarting of the monthly Sunday market. The Friday market is one I don’t usually do due to being so small and the need to buy a temporary event notice each week – but for a month or two they are letting us off the pitch fees so I feel I want to support our locality.
This week we were still bound by the 2 meter social distancing, not allowed to give samples nor to sell in open cups for people to drink. I understand that now week that it will be 1 meter plus spacing, we will be allowed to sell for drinking but still no tasting as that apparently slows down the flow of people!
Although quiet I confess to being delighted at the market. Lots of old friends saying hello. People very understanding of the restrictions. Many people making small purchases. And contrary to local news reports everybody seemed very aware of the need for social distancing and kept to it. If this is a sign of things to come, I can see it working – at least in a small market town.
There were changes to my product range as well. I have spent the lockdown developing some new sparkling bottled ciders. In addition to my popular Stones Half N Half I also launched my Stones Dabinet which seemed to sell well despite not being able to give tastings! My new Stones Somerset a bottle conditioned dry also went well. The new labels from Cognique really looked the part. I suspect this swing to Craft 500ml bottles will continue but it was also a big relief to see loyal customers coming back for the Traditional draft ciders in 3 litre pouches – and a very colourful new 5 litre pouch supplied by Vigo Presses.
Satisfying start if limited in quantity. If it carries on growing there is still time to get something out of the rest of the year. Let’s hope so and also hope the public continue to behave in the excellent way they did at this market.