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A new Oban business which had to close before it had properly opened is planning to start welcoming back customers on Thursday.
Karen Lindsay had always planned to open The Oban Beer Seller, opposite The Oban Distillery in Stafford Street, on March 27 – in time for the tourism season.
The former licensee had worked for 18 months, investing thousands of pounds to build the dream base for selling the finest craft beers from across Scotland and England, along with lagers, ciders and fruit sours.
But the pandemic put paid to those plans and it only opened for half a day on March 20, before she shut the doors and the lockdown was then imposed days later.
By the time it opens, it will have been shut for 12 weeks.
Armed with guidance from the government on how to keep customers and herself safe and ensure social distancing, Karen plans to partially open for half a day on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday.
The hours are likely to be between midday-6pm, Thursday and Friday, and midday-5pm on Saturday.
Karen, a former licensee of The Barn Bar at Lerags, said: ‘Until the shop is open, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I do not expect a stampede of people.
‘Little by little, places in Oban are opening and the more places that open, the more people will think it’s worth having a wander around town.
‘Hopefully, not long after and depending on how things go, it will reopen five days a week.’
Yellow and black tape has been laid on the shop floor and Karen will limit the number of customers, has installed a bench outside, and has an extensive cleaning and sanitising regime lined-up.
The mum-of-two said: ‘I’ll be limiting numbers, there will be clear guidelines for distancing, a cleaning regime, limiting the hours and still allowing online orders so people can still choose, if they prefer, to order online.’
Despite the pandemic, Karen managed to get in stock from breweries all over Scotland, and also turned to Derek Wilson Carrier Services of Oban.
She created a rudimentary way of selling beer by emailing customers a weekly stock list and asking them to choose which beers they wanted.
Customers paid online and then either picked up from the shop, or had it delivered to the door if they lived local to Oban. Beer has even been sent to Iona, Mull and Colonsay.
Karen said: ‘The business has to grow. While the sales have been really brilliant and fantastic, I need to sell more beer and can only sell more beer by being open. I just want it to be a shop, because the business was always going to be a shop, that was always the story.’