Banquet is, and again will be, a physical record shop. But we're not at the moment. And that's okay.
We took the option to close our store long before official advice was to do so. And my feeling is we'll be closed a lot longer than when we're legally permitted to open again. Effective social distancing isn't really possible in our record shop, and opening up the store to be a 12" Argos isn't what we're about.
But there's a lot we can be, and are, doing. We've always had a good web presence, and in this time we've spent a significant amount of time and money on improving the website, mostly around information flows to us, which means a better service to the customer.
Some of our staff are shielding, some have been ill, and some are able to work at home. But the rest of us are still coming in, doing the five day week, but there's been changes. Job roles and hours have changed. Our sound engineer is currently packing up mailorder, our shows rep is currently in the stock room and part of his work day is cycling to local homes delivering the mailorder. We have a one-person-per-room policy which slows up the process making things less efficient, but a necessary measure.
A payroll of 24 people is a few mouths to feed. The high street rent of two shops is a commitment and a challenge. I have many criticisms of the government, but the financial support to high street shops and employees has, to my mind, been very good. For the time being we're okay. just.
But high street retail is going to change for ever. The future of live music is likely to change for many months, and maybe longer. There was a time when people in our own industry weren't taking this seriously, and now I still feel people aren't aware of the long term effects of this wretched virus.
But we are where we are. None of us work in a coalmine. None of us are NHS workers or bus drivers. We're lucky and relatively safe. We're working hard, but are around friends, and doing the best we can. And that's been helped by some incredible outpourings from customers, suppliers and loads more. The overwhelming support from labels to give Indies-exclusives, from distros to help out with logistics, from bands signposting their fave record shops, and most importantly from customers who value what we do and what us to be there at the end of it.
It's been incredible and appreciated.
Hope to see you soon. but only when it's safe.