Today, Waterford.FYI talks to one of Waterford’s most well-known butchers, Jack Molloy, from his shop in Barrack Street, Waterford.
With a reputation for fine quality meats, good value, and friendly service, Jack Molloy is someone that truly enjoys serving up his customers whatever they need. Whether it’s a special cut of meat, or a customer looking to chat about their day, Jack knows how to keep them coming back for more. In fact, he has seen his customers go from comfort eating to ‘comfort cooking’ – a very apt concept for the times we are in. Find out more about Jack’s experience of life at the shop since March.
Read the interview
How have things changed for you since the lockdown in March?
These have been very strange times for all businesses; we are some of the lucky ones that have managed to stay open. We’ve come up with new ways of reaching our customers via social media, advertising, and getting messages out to people that we can deliver. Large parts of our business are down (hotels, restaurants closed) but we have been able to keep trading. People are coming back to the butcher shop, enjoying cooking again. Life is tough but customers are sitting around the table again.
No matter how hard things are, there is a nice aspect to this crisis. Families are coming together again; they’re being experimental and enjoying coming in with their list of ingredients. It’s gone to comfort cooking now rather than comfort eating. That’s an interesting concept. People are enjoying something that they’ve missed but had growing up. It’s certainly a thing that’s missing out of society that has come back in and I hope that it continues!
How has the shutdown of so much impacted the community, your staff, and suppliers?
It’s changed obviously. The way we work, we have to ensure social distancing with staff and keep people safe. We have a routine for washing hands every hour, we disinfect and we encourage our customers to disinfect their hands. We now only allow three customers in the shop at any time. I’m amazed by how people have got that so quickly. From a supply point of view, there were issues very early on because of panic buying but that settled down very quickly. There is a steady supply now. Things have quietened now and people have settled in. It’s very much normal trading at the moment.
Do you have an online shop?
We do have plans to have one, we are looking to do that. We have a website (Jack Molloy & Sons) and hope to have an online shop up and running in the next few weeks.
Has social media been of help to you?
Social media has been a very important part of what we’re doing. With our Facebook page and Instagram, we’ve managed to reach a great number of people and see their reactions to deals that we’re running. The phone would ring very soon after you’d post it, so good reactions after that. It’s been a great source of advertising.
What are you doing to help customers and staff feel safe?
When a customer comes into the shop, they know where to stand. As I said, it’s something that they see and they have adjusted to it straight away. We have the hand sanitisers, people are quite good. People can order over the phone; we can take a payment outside the shop so people can pull up outside and just put it in their boot. A lot of people just don’t want to come into the shop, and that’s fine. Equally, we can take a payment over the phone and we can deliver; customers are happy with the system.
We’ve put a sneeze shield between us and the customers. At first, it was a bit bizarre as you felt you were talking at them through a gate because you were so used to the close interaction, you know? Now we’ve gotten used to it. Things have just changed and they become the new normal. I think some things will be here for good.
Is there enough information out there for retailers?
Yes. For us, we are involved in the Association of Craft Butchers of Ireland (ACBI) which are a very good association and who have been bombarding us with lots of information, which is a good thing. Our EHO (Environmental Officers) have been in touch with us asking how things are going or any questions that we have. A lot of it is common sense.
Have you availed of any financial supports?
Actually, there’s a new one coming out to be able to go online. The Local Enterprise Board (LEO) to help you develop your website for customers to shop online, so that would be interesting for us.
Is there anything else the government could do to help?
What’s happening at the moment is a bit scary in the sense of there’s a real clash between how we keep things in place and the economy. It’s health versus wealth nearly. I don’t know what they can do, it’s a tough time for everybody; my own mam and dad are cocooned. I can see how difficult it is for them. How do they break that, move on, and get the economy back up and running again in a safe way? It’s a real challenge for them. I’ll be curious to see how they manage that but I think Ireland has been great. They’ve embraced it and I think we’ll be fine if we keep doing what we’ve been told to do. Adhere to the guidelines and we’ll get there.
What’s been the hardest thing for you?
From a personal point of view, my wife is in social care and is working from home at the moment. That has been difficult for her, to be locked in, looking after her mam and dad as well. The whole change and of course the social aspect of it too. I can’t wait to get back out on to the beach or go to the cinema, it’s the basic things really that we take for granted are just gone at the moment.
If you had one message for your customers, what would it be?
I’d really like to thank them for supporting us throughout this. Customers have come back to the butcher shop again and it’s been great to hear about the things they are enjoying cooking. To give advice on how to cook a piece of meat, that brings us joy. We want to be able to make their meal magical.