A new store to support the Hackney food and drink community during COVID-19 launched in just two weeks
By Victoria Gray
The global pandemic has been a crisis for some businesses, but also seen a renewed sense of community and innovative new ways to help.
Max Fishman opened The Quarter Store, which offers a centralised base for local businesses to have their products delivered, in May. Food and drink from suppliers like e5 Bakehouse, Hackney Gelato, Five Points and Newcomer Wines are available to deliver within one hour.
We spoke to Max about what it’s been like starting a new business in a pandemic and the value of helping the local community.
He told us that the strangeness of the lockdown situation meant that he could move quickly: “the idea of centralising local businesses for delivery had been sparked in my freelance management consultancy projects. With little on my plate at the start of lockdown, it came to me that, with this kind of concept, if there was any time to do it, it was now.
“I’d observed all the amazing food and drink businesses trying to figure out how to do delivery at the start of lockdown and I had the idea to bring everyone together as one delivery store.”
And it’s paid off. “The feedback was really positive – everyone was trying whatever they could to adapt to the new reality. All in, it took about two weeks from idea to launch, because there was so much availability due to the impact of the situation.”
He is subletting space from kefir brand Agua de Madre, whose bar/event space was not in use. “There’ll be a point where I’ll need my own space, but not yet,” Max notes.
The sense of community has been a true inspiration – even if it wasn’t what was originally planned. “I don’t think at any point during those two weeks I thought I’d be opening a deli”, said Max. “On the first day, literally within half an hour of opening – I was still working out how to do payments – people were coming down, so it became obvious very quickly that it was going to be a shop too.
“On a personal level I’ve really enjoyed meeting so many local customers – I quite often have a long chat even if they don’t buy anything.
“My hope is that the desire to shop local continues. COVID-19 has accelerated some longer term trends such as people ordering groceries online, which will only be beneficial for what I’m trying to build.”
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