Coll gets deliveries despite panic shoppers

Dougie Brown and Paula Jamieson who run the only shop on Coll.

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Panic buying on the mainland almost left cupboards bare on Coll until a rescue mission set in.

Dougie Brown who runs the island’s only shop was raging when suppliers were left struggling to complete his weekly order for residents relying on him.

At one stage, a £1,700 order to Booker Wholesale in Oban only made it to £4 in the trolley, said Mr Brown when he contacted The Oban Times last week.

But once word got out, team-work among Argyll and Bute Council and suppliers kicked in to make sure deliveries could get to Coll.

‘People were just going crazy on the mainland, freaking out, emptying the shelves leaving us with practically nothing here. It’s not a dig at the suppliers. We go week to week with our orders for the shop. We don’t have the capability of holding a lot of stock. What we turnover we order back in the next week. This panic buying could be disastrous for us and other smaller islands who don’t have franchises like the Co-Operative,’ said Mr Brown.

‘Coll has a lot of older people who are vulnerable. In the back of our minds we are worried about what could happen if the ferries can’t get to us. It’s very fragile here,’ he added.

Mr Brown  raised concerns with Oban South and the Isles Councillor Roddy McCuish. The community resilience team at Argyll and Bute were involved and suppliers including Booker Wholesale ramped up efforts to get food and produce together.

By the end of last week,  two orders had made it to Coll.

Councillor McCuish said he would like to see CalMac consider running freight-only ferries to some of the islands to make sure they have supplies.

‘Bigger islands like Mull have the Co-Operative chain but Coll has nothing like that. I think it slipped under the radar. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.’

A relieved Mr Brown said: ‘I would like to reiterate how wonderful MacLennan Motors, Bookers, Breckenridges, Oban Milk, Argyll Free Range eggs at Balvicar and Roddy McCuish have been in helping keep the island supplied. It’s important these companies and people are recognised for going above and beyond. All of them are wonderful people helping supply the fantastic community of Coll.’