By Chief Correspondent, Rob Thomas
DOUBLE celebrations were in order at a shop in Alverstoke village this week as it won an award and achieved an important milestone in these pandemic days.
Alverstoke Village Hardware Home Pet & Garden was voted Best Independent Shop 2021 in a public poll organised by Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.
Her initial call for nominations produced a list of more than 100 shops spread across the Gosport constituency and the top ten went through to a second round of voting – in which well over 2,000 people voted – to decide the title.
The winning owner Liz Edmunds said she was, “absolutely overwhelmed” by people voting for her shop, and described it as, “just fantastic”.
The reaction was understandable not just because she had won but also because the shop had survived the challenges that all small businesses have faced with the pandemic.
Surviving the pandemic
This week, she was able to celebrate two years of running the shop even though for 21 months of that time there have been lockdowns, people self-isolating, and social distancing.
She told The Globe that her shop was designated, “essential because we sell pet food for dogs, cats and small animals.”
And her business expanded its delivery service. “We were doing up to 30 deliveries a day”, she said, “and were providing a social service by visiting those who were shielding.
“It went crazy and definitely put us on the map.”
Not that the challenges are over because she is struggling to get supplies of some products but there was the delight in her voice as she added that the customers, “have kept us going.”
The runners up in this year’s poll were A Slice of Vinyl in Gosport High Street, Elson’s P&J’s Food, and Anita Blushing Bloom in Lee-on-the-Solent.
Speaking as a former owner of a small business, Caroline Dinenage said: “It was fantastic to see so many constituents nominating their favourite small independent businesses across Gosport, Lee on the Solent, Stubbington and Hill Head.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and local people really appreciate the service they offer. This was a great opportunity to celebrate those who make a difference in our community.”
And Liz Edmunds will able to celebrate in style – as this year’s winner she will receive a bottle of House of Commons champagne as well as a certificate.
PHOTOGRAPH (top): Alverstoke Village Hardware Home Pet & Garden