A family-run fruit and veg business has reopened in Coventry Market after the coronavirus pandemic led to the longest shutdown in its 44-year history.
John King & Sons (Coventry) Ltd were once again manning the tables of fresh produce at their three stalls in the centre yesterday (Wednesday, September 2).
It meant a return to pre-dawn starts for Martin King, who was up early to get to the wholesalers in Birmingham before resuming duties behind one of the stalls alongside his wife, Susan.
He said: “It feels strange to be back after being away for so long, and the stall is usually twice as big. Five months is a long time when you’ve done something as long as we have but it all comes back straight away. It’s nice to welcome back all the customers and see some familiar faces. This time it’s for good, hopefully.”
Susan added: “It’s been hard work getting it all set up and in place but it’s good to see the customers again. The city centre has been busy and it’s all about people’s confidence in getting out and about again.
“Hopefully when that happens the market will be a bit busier and we will see a few more people coming back to the stalls.”
The family made the decision to temporarily pull down the shutters during the coronavirus lockdown on March 23, partly because of the adverse trading conditions as people stayed at home but also to protect customers from the spread of Covid-19.
The three stalls had been trading continuously since 1976 and the family regularly work 12-hour shifts, which includes early-hours trips to Birmingham Wholesale Market.
It was an anxious time behind the scenes for the business, which was founded by John King and is now run by Susan and Martin and his brother Mark.
But scoring the full five stars for each of the stands in hygiene inspections carried out before the lockdown had given the business a lift as it prepared for today’s re-launch.
Preparations have included making the stalls Covid-compliant, implementing the use of hand gels, masks and visors and observing the two-metre social distancing rule.
The stalls are among a number of businesses in the market that have received the full five stars in food hygiene inspections published since the start of 2020.