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Happening at Organico, Bantry, Ireland

Hannah & Rachel Dare in their deli

Q&A with Hannah Dare

How did you adapt at various stages during pandemic lockdowns?

The last 18 months have been a rollercoaster for Organico. In March 2020 we closed our café and our online sales exploded, so we were at once half the floor space and twice as busy. We adapted by creating a warehouse where our café had been and redeploying as many staff as we could to the online side of the business.

My sister and business partner, Rachel, started managing the online logistics where previously she had been managing our café. So there was a lot of change in a short time frame! But we weathered it like so many businesses, and now we have extended our shop into the café space and have a lovely, bright, airy shop, and a tasty deli and coffee bar. It’s great to be serving food again, even though it’s all takeaway.

The online service is still trading well, and the summer looks set to be busy!

And the shop itself?

We also kept our bricks and mortar store open, though trading was very challenging with reduced numbers in-store and many people wanting a personal shopping service which was time-consuming and troublesome to manage. But we were happy to be able to open. Our father, who started Organico nearly 30 years ago, had lived through WW2 and was known to say, “People will always need to eat”. This turned out to be true.

What was the balance between in-store and online sales at various stages (assuming you were open during lockdowns).

Online grew to nearly 50% of in-person sales, at the high point. Usually it’s more like 15-20%.

How important was it to be so advanced with online and social media skills and how have these evolved?

We have put a huge amount of time and energy (and funds) into developing a social media strategy and it’s vital. People want to know who they are buying from and that we are real people with real values. We work with a couple who help us with advertising, strategy and coaching, as we know we are up against huge platforms like Amazon, who are hard to compete with.

We have run some very successful Webinars. We had 500 people sign up for one with Marilyn Glenville on women’s health. We work hard to be different, real, available and to offer a very personal experience for our customers, whether in person or online.

What’s the latest on footfall and which products are selling well this summer?

Footfall is excellent – we are in a tourist/market town, so the summer is busy.

We are really focusing on Irish-made products this summer with some exciting new brands like Nibbed Cacao, an Irish company doing lovely things with chocolate, as well as some favourites like White Masau Peanut Rayu. Our own bakery and deli food is selling well. We sell a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Brexit has been a challenge and we still cannot source everything we want, but it’s improving slowly.

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