‘True grit’ is a phrase often thrown around in reference to the people of Yorkshire’s towns and cities. Why is this? Is it because there is actually a gritty stone from these parts used to polish marble and copper that is called Yorkshire Grit? Or is it because during arduous times people from our region maintain spirit and moral stamina – which an online dictionary tells us is the definition of true grit?
Our essential workers and business owners have faced plummeting footfalls, a deserted town centre, unexpected sickness and staff isolations. They have implemented the Government’s furlough scheme and have to work around home schooling, premise closures, uncertainty and much more.
Doncaster Market implementing social distancing measures whilst ensuring they were fully stocked at a time when supermarkets were sparse, and The Glass Strawberry delivering afternoon tea to our mothers on Mothering Sunday when many couldn’t actually be with their children, are just two instances of maintained momentum in Doncaster.
Circumstances differ from one small business to the next, in the same way they do for each person we ourselves speak to on Zoom, but high spirits and stamina do seem to prevail. Doncopolitan spoke to The Herbalists, a local business established in 1933 that has stayed open throughout the pandemic, to understand their story.
Two years ago the baton was passed and the 87-year-old store on Printing Office Street was handed over. Since then, with the passionate proprietors Lydia and Arman at the helm, a new age has commenced for The Herbalists with an online presence at the forefront. Online shoppers can now purchase anything from vitamins and supplements to dried herbs, food and drink, as well as CBD products and skin and body care essentials from the independent store.
The duo and their local team view using herbs, natural remedies, along with health foods, as a lifestyle choice and give Doncaster access to products that support this way of life. The store also keeps in tune with current times and trends, Lydia said: ‘We’ve always kept gluten free, vegan friendly and eco products in store. We’re a legitimate supplier of CBD and only stock quality herbal products. 99% of all our products are produced in the UK, as a lot of countries do not have such strict manufacturing and labelling laws. We only work with trusted manufacturers.’ The locally raised, active herbalist went on to say, ‘we stock a lot of Doncaster products and I’d say a third to half of our products are made in Yorkshire because supporting local manufacturers is very important to us. As a local store in the heart of the community we can offer that personal touch and high level service that a lot of chains cannot offer. It’s history. It’s knowledge. It’s service.’
As an essential business on the government’s exception list, the store has been granted permission to stay open during lockdown. They have reduced opening hours: 9am – 4pm as they are running with absolute minimum staffing, but continue to serve customers on-site through a doorway counter. ‘The doorway counter ensures distance between our team and the public, prevents queuing and keeps all of our products away from members of the public.’ the herbal medicine student explains.
She and her partner, who saved the business after discovering on a trip home to see her parents that the store was due to close, have made further moves during these adaptive times, ‘We have a website and deliver nationwide. Yet a lot of our elderly or vulnerable customers do not use the internet so we also set up a free 24-hour local delivery service for anyone who needs us during lockdown. We are always happy to answer any questions we can, our team is exceptionally well trained.’ Stamina covered then.
Lydia also adds ‘We are a family and obsessed with what we do, in a good way. Herbalism is a way of life and our team completely encompasses that’, a comment that demonstrates even during a time when our town centre and her stores doorstep is eerie and in her words ‘a ghost town’ they remain in high spirits.
The stores location, website and socials are;
The Herbalists, Jackson’s of Yorkshire
44 Printing Office Street
Doncaster Town Centre
Social: @theherbalistsuk (store enquiries)
@theherbalistsonline (online enquires)