Express & Star

How corner shops are playing vital role in wake of panic buying

As panic buying sweeps the country, shoppers are once again relying on their corner shops for necessities.

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Manni Massey from GM Home Discounts

The outbreak of Covid-19 has seen people strip large supermarket shelves of items like toilet roll and hand gel.

In response, shoppers have been turning to their neighbourhood shops for help - bringing them to the forefront of communities like in past generations.

One such store is GM Home Discounts in Wombourne, where owner Manni Massey has experienced a huge spike in demand.

As toiletries and hand gels have flown off the shelves, Manni has delivering bottles of hand gel free of charge to elderly residents in the village.

And while some shop owners have been criticised for upping the prices of essentials, Manni has set aside toilet paper for the vulnerable.

Manni told the Express & Star: "Supermarkets can't always provide for people.

"We try our hardest everyday to get those items. Sometimes at 4am we will be looking to get items for the next day.

"We just want to help the community more than anything. It is not about making money.

Customers inside Manni's shop

"I respect the elderly. My grandad passed away but not many people know that the shop's initials is still in his name. The elderly are in most danger from this virus."

Manni, who is the nephew of former Wolverhampton mayor Elias Mattu, said he has never seen it so busy but remains adamant he is not out to make a profit in the wake of panic-buying.

He has increased deliveries to keep up with demand and keeps some toilet rolls aside for the elderly and vulnerable.

"They have been flying off the shelves," he said.

He says this has left him exhausted. "Other shops in the community are doing it too," he said. "But I love doing it."

His actions have been recognised by residents in Wombourne who contacted the Express & Star to feature him in our Star Neighbour section.

However a couple of weeks ago he received backlash on social media for selling hand gel at higher prices.

This, he says, was the result of his suppliers increasing their prices, leaving him with little choice to raise his. But he claims it was never about making a profit.

"A couple of weeks ago I was actually exposed on Wombourne Neighbourhood Watch Group [a community Facebook group]," he said.

"A customer said I was charging too much money for hand gel. But my suppliers raised their prices and I had no choice. I had my say on this [online] and afterwards the community stuck to me like no-one's business."

Manni, from Tettenhall, who employs two staff, showed his invoices to customers to prove this.

Despite doing receiving praise from the community, Mani added: "I'm not looking for publicity. A lot of small shops are doing the same. We all have to stick together. Wombourne is the best community out there."