The week before the lockdown we were, like the majority of high street pet shops in the UK, run off our feet with people panic -buying – like the Christmas trade without the preparation. By Saturday night we had a decimated shop with double our normal weekly turnover. We usually order from our wholesaler on Tuesday for a Wednesday delivery but, as things were so manic, we decided to put together the order on Monday evening after the shop shut so we did not forget anything and the wholesaler had the order first thing on Tuesday. We then sat down with a cup of tea to listen to the Prime Minister’s 8.30pm announcement. After sitting speechless – being told to go home and don't come out again – we had decisions to make. Firstly do we close or stay open? We are both in our early 60s and my wife's health is not brilliant, so if we caught coronavirus there would be consequences; if only a two-week closure of the shops. Secondly, do we go ahead with the order we had placed or do we cancel it? If we go ahead we get the delivery of stock over two-and-a-half times bigger than our usual weekly delivery. Will we be left with it on the shelves as everyone stays at home, or will it sell out as supermarkets and online sellers continue to be unable to fulfil orders? After much discussion wedecided to stay open and go ahead with the order. Crows and covid Next day we spent some time putting an orange tape one metre back from the counter and lots of posters asking people to respect social distancing, only one person in the shop at a time, pay by plastic and please don’t get too close to us in the shop. One thing I did do was head all my posters ‘corvid-19’. It took me a week to realise that there is no ‘R’ in covid and in fact corvid is the name of the crow family of birds! Well the orange tape was ignored so we piled Markies and gravy bones 10-kilo boxes in front of the counter – that kept them back! We have surgical gloves for when we are cleaning out the animals so that was a help, plus we ordered facemasks as well. A customer even made us cloth facemasks with material with cats printed on it. We also reminded customers that we do home deliveries but we need paying over the phone beforehand. I'm happy to leave stuff on people’s doorsteps but not to engage in chit-chat or take money on the doorstep. Settling down We needn’t have worried about the huge order as it sold through fairly quickly so we did the same again, placed the order on the next Monday evening, a much smaller one, just to top us up. By now things had settled into a pattern. Customers started appearing around 10am and disappeared around 3pm, so we set reduced hours from 9am to 3pm. More than 80% of our takings were on contactless plastic, and the overwhelming majority understood that we do not stock the same products as supermarkets and pet supermarkets. To keep our customers informed we put updates on our Facebook page and joined the local covid-19 support group. As of writing this, sales have settled down to something just below normal. Our horse feed supplier is struggling a bit to keep up with demand but our main wholesaler is back to normal, with the exception of cat litter – maybe something to do with the loo roll shortage! Please everyone keep safe, the pet trade is trying to serve the public but just remember it’s not worth catching this virus for.